*Post Edit: If you noticed I took this post down- it was to reconstruct and edit most paragraphs because I felt the idea I was trying to communicate needed some refining. I read it to my NT counterpart and he understood where I was going but mentioned that most NT's who do not know me would not get it. I still don't think that the essence of what I wanted to convey is fully captured, but I do feel that now it reflects a bit more of what I was trying to write. Thanks for your patience.*
Every year my cousin arrives and we play at unprofessional, fun, "photo shoots." Basically we dress up in themed outfits and take hundreds of photos. We pick the best photos to put into a summer montage video set to peppy music. It's a quick keepsake of the good times to share. Because I am old Skool and do not participate in Facebook or have large social media platforms besides Blogger and Pinterest I do this instead. I watch the videos on rainy days to remind me of the love infused in my life and to see the growth of each year.
For the pictures I try to think of themes that we already have outfits for. This summer my sister and cousin were teasing me because I mentioned that there was nothing hotter than a woman in a baseball tee and cap. Yes, stuff like that does come out of my mouth and apparently the way I emphasized that point had them on the floor in giggle fits. I am happily married to a man by the way. I chalk these sort of comments up to the fact that most Aspies can (obviously each of us has our own preferences) be pansexual. Many of us Aspies don't often see gender lines. Attraction is attraction. Anyway, that was two months ago but as an inside joke I decided we should go with the baseball theme. I had five casual baseball tees to share around anyway and normal shirts on the kids would work. My life is currently about comfort; plaid in the winter months and baseball tees and tanks in the summer, so this worked well.
I am severely Dyspraxic (link) so sports are NOT my thing. My sister had to show us all how to hold a bat. I still don't think I got it right...and it was a toddler bat. My cousin and I were laughing as we attempted the baseball stance. It felt so awkward. She also had to show us how to pitch a ball which is funny because she can't really play either. We staged an entire game on an actual baseball field at one point. It was the most fun I have ever had 'playing baseball'. While I like the concept of baseball my childhood memories of this sport are the worst. Many involve being picked last, clumsy falls between bases, witnessing two broken bloody noses, and getting hit in the head. "Fake ball" (as I lovingly dubbed it) was much more fun!
I would have loved to have been an actress. I had to pretend a role most of my life to fit in. So I tried to make it fun when I could. I had to act to survive. It sounds dramatic but it's actually true. I thrived because I could mimic. Sometimes, oddly to me, the act of acting CAN also be genuine.
"Genuine or real" are words often thrown around to judge an experience. I find this particularly ironic in our current social media age. Yet it begs the questions; "What is real? What is genuine? Who decides what makes an experience authentic? What about 'something' makes it 'fake'?" Our 'fake' playing was the best sporting experience I have had in years. It was real in it's unreality.
I had to lay down, due to health, for a few hours after to recover from the full hour of photos, and yes, I faked some of the energy during the time, but what would my life be like if I DIDN'T sometimes force myself to play a role for awhile? In "reality" I can't engage in much activity in my current condition. I DO have an experience I would otherwise not have.
I believe in authenticity. Over the years I have worked hard to discover my personality, my inner workings and my genuine thoughts, beliefs and abilities. But I also believe there is something to imaginative play. Imaginative play is different from being fake and untrue to oneself. I know many people who are fake. They do not know themselves but they know concepts of what they THINK will make them happy, so they play at it, all day. They judge themselves and others and levels of happiness based on outer concepts or societal rules. This is not what I am speaking of.
In order to have an imagination, to play a role, one has to have a genuine belief in their authentic self. Good actors leave a role once it is done but immerse themselves in it while they play it. Why? Because they KNOW themselves enough to see where they begin and end. They are not confined by themselves OR the role.
I know I am not a baseball player but I DID play ball. I didn't play by all the rules nor did I participate in a standardized team game, but I had the makings of the game with me. I had a bat, a ball, the shirt and tights, the cap, and the attitude. The props made the experience seem real (ish- our attempts did not look professional. They included a toddler bat after all and Hollister Tees) but one could also argue that props make up life.
Was my experience fake? Was I not in a genuine moment because it was staged for photos? Did I not play ball? Did I not laugh even though inside I was wondering how many more steps I was capable of?
I do not believe in pushing oneself to get a result. If I really felt sick I would have had no issues walking away. I don't believe in the evangelical cultural concepts of sticking it out or the sole virtue of determination. I was brought up to believe that anyone worth their salt would not give up. Giving up was seen as failure. An interesting thought process full of complex ironies. Practice, patience, determination, grit...those words were thrown around a lot. I was led to believe that I could only have a full life if I stuck to something. And for what? Most adults teaching these concepts believed that if one practiced they would BECOME something great at whatever they were practicing at. As if they weren't already something that was good enough and of great value. It was about a goal. It was about achievement. Achievement defined existing. Existing became about what one accomplishes. A good full life was defined as what a person DID.
It's interesting...the blind faith we put into what we think equates a good person, a good life, or a good way of BEING. Sometimes walking away is the bravest thing one can do. Walking away from a fight, walking away from abusive relationships, setting boundaries, quitting an experience that could be substituted for something more enjoyable. The reason we don't want to believe that walking away can be good is because the fabric of society is based off of people willing to stick it out. Our institutions would fail and the way society runs would go into chaos for awhile until people figured out how to exist without a cultural concept of Being and how to create a safety net of reliable people without the drilling in of 'losers' being the 'quitters.' I have no idea how that would turn out and there are many books dissecting the topic better than I. It's just something I have been thinking of. I don't label us quitters. I label our family as boundary seekers and boundary pushers that can not be confined to a box. I see us as changing our minds in flexibility. I believe we base all our decisions on living in the current context with the future in mind but not using the future as the sole factor. One decision with one person could be the opposite of what we do with another in a seemingly similar situation.
(This photo was taken by my daughter when we were supposed to be working on our library renos. See, despite thinking women look hot in baseball tees, I think my man is hot too:)
While sometimes sticking it out is the best thing to do and determination can be a virtue, it's the goal of the matter that bothers me. I really do believe that we need to commit to things and follow through on our vows. I am an Aspie- forever commitment to my spouse for example, is not a problem because of my inner moral commitment. However, my thoughts are- if we really KNEW ourselves and if we really KNEW what makes us tick, the good and the bad, most times we would not need to have the grit to stick out. The majority of what we do would be either neutral or good. Bad things would happen, but even then we would have such a strong sense of self, that we would be carried through. We would know what we need to be happy and be happier to those close to us that we love. This would create a trickle effect, spreading out to others. Most of our influence would be small. If each person influenced their small world, this health would gradually encompass the world. Perhaps I am an Idealist? But could we use a tad more dissection of why we "stick things out" or why we are not comfortable with something that seems "fake" when it's just a different sort of real?
I faked it to make it during photos because I wanted to. I knew where I began. I knew my limitations. I knew what I needed to BE but also what I could pretend to BE in order TO BE. I had a blast. That was genuine. The reason why I did it was just as important as doing it.
I spent most of my childhood doing things that made others happy. It was the fabric of our religion, my education and society. I was an Aspie who felt uncomfortable 98 percent of the time. It was awful. No longer do I confine myself to those standards. I am judged for it but at least I no longer feel that judgement from myself. I have bad times and horrid moments, like everyone else, but I try to own them and when I fail- I fail. If I can quit something to pursue more beauty and to infuse a more comfortable way of Being if its unhealthy and causing ill health around me- I will. Sometimes it takes more creativity, grit and stubbornness due to the cultural concepts of those around me to quit the activity but it's worth the effort and the judgement. I know who I am.
Why can't we teach our children and ourselves how to quit healthily? Why do they have to finish the season of soccer? Because others depend on them? Perhaps those others can learn flexibility and creativity? Perhaps it depends on the circumstance? IF our children are truly miserable why are we forcing them to participate? Life has enough miserable moments on it's own to build natural resilience and character, why do we feel we need to add more? As adults we choose experiences or avoid ones that will make us feel less than human- Why can't our children have that freedom too? Perhaps our children can learn how to say no with consideration and be dependable to those that really matter instead of people pleasing and society pleasing through life? Is it about image of the family? Image of the child? Can we teach them how to hone in on their talents be Being instead? Can we teach how to choose what they love so that they will do it even when they are uncomfortable because of the love of it? Why is a genuine experience based on cultural norms? Isn't it mostly circumstantial anyway?
I can't even begin to cover this crossover of philosophy, sociology, theology and psychology in this post but it was worth a little dip into the water. This complex thought process and way of being based on decades of previous collective decisions obviously can not be undone with a post but it can be questioned lightly. I have more questions than answers anyway.
Fakeball was the best sport I have played. Determination was worth the photos because I wanted the photos and the experience of the photos so thus it was worth the exhaustion. Yet, within my belief of determination I have let my children quit structured piano and culturally expected organized sports. I am a paradox I realize, but I know why I AM. I am trying to teach my children the same sort of thing. They will fail. They are still finding out who they are. Importantly they are conversing about why they do not participate or why they do. THEY are choosing. Sometimes they lose out, but more often they are learning how to win at being content or just simply BEING. I hope they are learning within that BEING is worthy on it's own.
Play ball! Ha. Even it it may be a game of fakeball. Enjoy the paradoxes, oddities, and general absurdities of the drama called life...at least that is what I hope I am doing and thus hope for you. I hope we can value BEING more than doing. I hope I continue to have more questions than answers and that we value each other simply because we ARE together in LIFE.
And this reminds me of summer magic. "We go together like a wink and a smile."