Temple Grandin – Vision

She sees the world in ways others can’t. Simple, succinct and seminal. Well, the first two for sure; only time will tell how seminal her story will be for me.

Another thing I got out of the movie was that of “connection”.

Already, I have too much for one posting; and what I learned about my daughter who just graduated from high school is yet another story. So this might be a multi-part posting; I’m sure my loyal readers will humor me?

We all see the world in a unique way – our own way; unfortunately, for the most part, we want others to see it the way we do. This is self-defeating for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it shows that we persist in living in our own illusions, for the simple fact that we want everyone to see what we see – this, all-by-itself is an illusion. We give ourselves the mantle of being “special” and “unique” but expect others to give up their own and worship ours.

According to the movie, Temple had difficulty with roommates in college. I can imagine myself in a close, daily relationship with someone who had pretty much no social skills at all. Maybe that would work because I don’t have much use for people, either (and I know I’m not autistic, for I am brilliant at absolutely nothing at all: “hopelessly average” as my sister has put it). But, she finally got a roommate who was blind. Two things there: One, the blind roommate spent her whole life being different and living in a world that was not the least bit accommodating to her “other than ‘normal’ needs”. And two, the roommate “saw” the world in voices and sounds – not really so much different from how Temple said she saw the world, tho for her, in pictures.

So, first “a-ha moment”: How do I see the world, and how can I appreciate how others see it? I’ll go way out on a limb here and propose that we, each and every one of us, want to make the world fit our perception, our mold, our “reality”. But, if we stand back a minute, be the director and not one of the actors on the stage, we will quickly come to the realization that the world is bigger than us, and has been and will be, around longer than each of us, and that we need to fit the world. In my previous life of being a military aviator, we used to say “strap on the airplane”; and I had some brilliant colleagues (I hope they don’t mind me calling them colleagues) who seemed to become another entity entirely – a good thing when coming aboard a pitching deck at night (NORDO, too). Yes, I am a tailhooker (and proud of it). The actor lives on the stage, the aviator lives in the sky, but with its own – inviolate – rules (actors can “break a leg” and return; military aviation is less forgiving).

While Temple (and “all” austistics?) can’t understand why we “normal” folk can’t see the world as they do, can we, at the very least, give up our illusions? Maybe Temple could never learn how to hug; can I? She certainly understood how necessary some sort of hug was; just not from people, thank-you-very-much. Give up that First Illusion; that the world is as we see it. As we see it, not as how others see it; and finally, not how it really is.

Second, try to see the world as others see it. Well, maybe appreciate that they do see it differently; then move on to “walking a mile in their shoes”. Crawl, then walk, then run. First, aim, then shoot. Engage my brain before I open my mouth (conveniently ignoring that, often, there aren’t any brain cells to engage).

I earn a paycheck from a company that espouses “diversity”. Recently, it hijacked that term – formerly used for ethnic diversity – and has promulgated “geographical diversity” (what do you expect from a huge engineering company?). During a recent “webcast” (I suppose that term makes as much sense as “broadcast”?) five executives explained their new corporate strategy. All five were: white, male and middle-aged. Three of the five were grossly obese. I am white and male, which I can’t change, and wouldn’t change, even if I could. And, I am past middle-age; not much I can do about that, either. The obese is entirely w/n my control. That said, I am reminded of Groucho Marx’s famous: “I would never join a club that would have me as a member.” Temple Grandin is probably as brilliant as all five of those stuffed-shirts put together; but she would never be allowed into that club; and thankfully, most likely couldn’t care less. And the company I work for is less for the incest.

Food for thought, Temple: how do I see the world, and how do others see it?

Thanks to Claire Danes for her portrayal in the HBO movie. Dr Temple Grandin is on the web; well worth your time to look her up (I guess I should say “Google her”, shouldn’t I?).

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