Good day/evening everyone! Finally finished the introductory chapter to my upcoming book, tentatively called “The Wonderful World of Pharaoh”. Feel free to comment and critique on it.
I wish I could buy into a universal world, where everyone adheres and thrives under the same social norms. An utopia in which we won’t be misreading signals or bicker over ways of living. I assume that people in such utopia don’t have to call each other weirdoes or lames because they don’t have to worry about different worlds. Or I can dream of creating an earth – like atmospheres field with islands of various social expectations. You don’t have to bow down to a mainstream culture and suffer bouts of conformity. Inhabitants in that world can see their way in their own, private, and visual manner in each bubble.
Sadly, the world as we know it doesn’t operate in either way. We live in a world within multitudes of worlds and perspectives. Human share at least two different worlds at once. There is the physical world, which is the planet Earth and its environments/resources. Then you have a universal world; everyone in that world agrees on a set of social norms and taboos that can be understood anywhere, no matter what culture you may represent. Let’s be real: universal worlds are NOT utopian or totalitarian. I don’t see a leader make the whole world follow a set of rules. Good luck controlling approximately six billion people by enforcing a static set of social norms! On the other hand, it would also be difficult to govern six billion separate mindsets. Even if a government was created to allow separate worlds to exist as isolated islands, everyone would still either clash or stick to their own rules and social norms.
Along with the physical and universal worlds, you may also experience personal, customized worlds within those two primary, preset realms. It can range from two to infinite additional worlds, and it all depends on various factors. One must consider things such as ethnicity, medical conditions, education, family upbringing, critical event that may influence ideologies, social status, etc. Some can juggle multiple worlds at once. Others thrive on focusing on living in their own little world, without much regard for their other worlds.
For example, I sit on a bench to enjoy a placid, bright day at Rainbow Beach in Chicago. To the naked eye, I am located near 79th Street and South Shore Drive in the Cheltenham/South Shore neighborhood, on the beaches of the great Lake Michigan. A pedestrian may see me stare at the skyline, the children making sand castles, pretty ladies strolling on the pathway, or youth spiking a volleyball over the net. That’s what I call the physical world. It’s the things, the concrete and immediate ones, that you can recognize.
Keep in mind that there are more worlds than the physical one and that you may be experiencing two worlds at once. Going back to the Rainbow Beach example, you may also pickup on how I see the universal world within the physical realm. You’ll probably assume that I’m at Rainbow Beach to relax, take a break from work, escape the sweltering heat wave, meditate, or search for a mate. Besides, I think we all go to the beach for any of those usual reasons. But then there are more worlds to consider within the confines of Rainbow Beach. You might see two common worlds: the physical and the universal ones. However, Rainbow Beach can mean many more things than just its standard definition. That beach may be my retreat from the violent Chicagoan streets; it might be my little island of heaven. Or it could be a reminder of how much I missed my hometown, since I can see the Chicago skyline from that area. Maybe Rainbow Beach reinforces my affinity for water and the lakefront. Who knows what else I can draw from Rainbow Beach! Aside from the sea of possible viewpoints, I’m using the Rainbow Beach example to illustrate how you can experience worlds with a know physical location.
Why am I going on a tangent about worlds, you may ask? I can be expressing my passion for studying metaphysical and spiritual ideologies. Or blame it on the anime and cartoons; those two factors are loaded with whacky and vast worlds. Yet those are not primary reasons why I’m going into detail with multiple worlds. Instead, I’m borrowing a page from W.E.B. DuBois’ philosophies on identities, in which a person is carrying two or more personas in one body. Originally utilized to explain how African-Americans view their dual identities in America, you can say that DuBois’ notion of “double-consciousness” can be applied to any situation where a person is floating between two or more identities that conflict with each other. Those with multiple identities may have difficulties coping with how their peers view each persona and how those affect certain aspects of their life.
have so many worlds that I navigate within a finite space. I am a brony, spiritual being, photographer, believer in polyamory, humanitarian, South Sider from Chicago, football junkie, foodie, life-long student, romantic, troubled soul, etc. If I keep going with the listing, then you’ll assume that my head is saturated with interesting worlds I travel back and forth to. I will talk about some of my interests and personas later. But for now, I want to explore two primary identities readers should examine more closely; one of them needs special attention because it’s a world only a brave few can describe.
On one hand, I am human, just like everyone around me. Yes, I am a six-foot, 270-290 lb. dreadhead who can pass for a lineman or linebacker. Otherwise, I’m similar to the average Joe. I have feelings and I express them verbally. I eat, sleep, move around, poop, and piss like a human being. My five senses are present, though I do need glasses sometimes to look at tiny or far away objects. I can be adventurous and have fun with you if I’m in the appropriate situation. I get in trouble just like everyone else, bleed just like you, and try to answer life’s questions like everyone else. And best to believe that I am capable of playing sports or making sweet love (if I wanted a mate)!
At first glance, you may perceive me to be human. I guess I’ve been playing normal well for quite some time. You can’t tell that I’m different right? I don’t think so. Other than exhibiting a few personality quirks, I can pass for a neurotypical with flying colors.
But what if I tell you I have another identity? Perhaps this human/normal thing that I have is nothing more than a façade. It’s because I’m also autistic. Furthermore, autism is my dominant identity, not human. Being autistic is being a foreigner in his or her motherland. I operate and function like a neurotypical in the human world, and if you didn’t know any better, you would assume that I’m a natural-born citizen of that world. However, I don’t feel like a citizen of this Earth, but rather an explorer from Planet Vegeta or some mystical territory. I view the world much like a dog roaming the barren alleys, relying on senses and patterns and visuals. From what I learned, humans usually rely on feelings, abstract thought, and social concepts. I’m functional (somewhat) in those departments, but even close to fluent. But I am fluent in recognizing and explaining concrete details. I use my five senses and brain to navigate this jungle called life. I concentrate on one thing at a time with sharp focus, as if I’m buying into Coach Schottenheimer’s “one play at a time” philosophy.
Those are cool traits to have, right? You’re the most incredible person in the world (in my books) if you can shove all your social mayhem and focus on what you love to pursue best. I can empathize with you on that one, but some neurotypicals my give us the evil eye when we go on with our lives with that mindset. I believe that a few really give a damn about the logical viewpoints of autists and aspies. We’re aliens, even though we bleed, piss, and shit like non-autistic people. However, I live in the social world, dominated by concepts, idioms, and emphasis on peer interaction & social norms.
There are reasons why the whole different world spiel is a reoccurring theme. As mentioned before, autistic live in two parallel worlds. There’s the neurotypical world, where daily life is governed by constructs, cues, and norms….with chunks of (complex) emotions. And then you walk into the world of autists and aspies, where logic, patterns, and animalistic thinking dictate how daily lives and routines operate. What I mean by animalistic thinking is the type of thinking that Dr. Temple Grandin once explained in a BBC documentary: both animals and people on the autistic spectrum rely on their senses and concrete details to navigate their surroundings. For example, a scent from a person can give me numerous information, such as the age of the person, state of mind, taste in fashion, personality, brand of cologne/perfume, lotion flavor, etc. Senses and details matter to autists and aspies. I wish that the higher powers could have forged an Earth-like planet just for autist and aspies to inhabit. But then I won’t have to write my essay series, or find a legitimate reason to write it. Haha!
There is only one Earth in the universe, therefore us aspies and autists share it with non-autistics. Despite my distaste for some of the social norms, I must obey the rules of the neurotypicals in order to survive the chaos called life. I am bombarded with visuals and literature on how to be “a normal person” on a daily basis. I see it in mainstream movies, where they are saturated with social norms. The ads I see on TV dictate how I should behave. Institutions, like school and places of worship, have knacks on molding me into an average, respectable human. And people are quick to point out my “weaknesses” if I pull out my first generation Pokémon cards. If an action seems off to them (even if it’s not a wrong vs. right thing), then I’ll be hammered with concerns or jeers. I’m an outcast if I see the world differently from what I was programmed to see it. And yes, some of my quirks may seem strange to their eyes. For example, turning a fan on while the heat is circulating the house or not dressing up for church can lead into unnecessary debates. I have my reasons behind certain actions, and most of them are preferences, not good vs. bad (some of them can be stemmed from my autism, like turning on less lights).
On one hand, I see those who mock my “autistic way of life” as bullies and complete assholes. They seem to get a kick out of judging the autist or aspie, though some may have at least working knowledge of what autism is. They appear to purposely mock their mannerisms. But then you have those who don’t know any better or are misinformed. You may have never heard about autism until I wrote about it or someone you know has the condition. Or maybe you were listening to fictionalized accounts (some are them are inaccurate) of those living on the spectrum. I’m not surprised if you see as a savant or man-child prone to tantrums, if my routine gets shaken up. Perhaps you might have strong knowledge of autism. Or, you may even exhibit traits of it, but your family, peers, or community doesn’t want to hear what you have to say. I’m assuming that they have their own fears, myths, or prejudice on that matter. I believe that, in general, the African-American community is not big on topics surrounding mental and developmental disorders. Though I don’t want to get into detail until later in the book, I can say that it boils down to “trying to play normal and cool”, like Shaft, Snoop Dogg, or Michael Jordan.
I’m writing my essay series for two kinds of people: those in the spectrum who are facing similar predicaments as myself and those who don’t understand our struggles to live in a predominately neurotypical world. I’m aiming for the latter because I’m tired of others telling our stories without regards for the autistic community or taking the time to learn about our daily lives, especially as adults. In fact, I don’t think people ever get to listen to stories from autistic adults often. My book shouldn’t be taken as gospel; my account of being autistic is unique, and the same can be said for previous essays and memoirs written by those in the spectrum. However, I pray that you can get a slight handle of the struggles and benefits of living on the autistic spectrum. People can again more insight to how I, as an autist, operate in the “normal world” and why I can sometimes feel like an alien on my own homeland.
To those on the spectrum, I hope that the journeys in my collection would be exciting rides for you too. I want to help remind my aspie/autie family that our voices are out there and we will be heard with attentive, objective ears. We write such non-fiction pieces to inspire those on the spectrum to be themselves and live out their obsessions. This is especially important for autists and aspies of African descent. It’s a rarity to find successful black people on the spectrum; I only managed to come across one who is officially diagnosed with autism: British artist Stephen Wiltshire (eeyup, the guy who can draw the city of Manhattan using photographic memory). We ought to see more aspies and autists of color doing their thing and sharing their stories. I’m far from a celebrity figure or person of importance, but writing my thoughts on the world of the autist can at least spark something.
With all being said, are ready to travel through the wonderful world of Pharaoh? Sorry if I was long-winded with my speech. Don’t worry about fluff and fillers, because those things are reserved for anime. You will come across interesting facts, funny anecdotes, and repressed memories….all are thrillers. But please be aware of references to booze, sex, “God-talk”, cannabis, and all the taboo stuff. I’m sure some may not be ready for an aspie who cares about Mary Jane. However, unexplored territory must be visited if you want an authenticated view of Pharaoh’s world. At any rate, y’all will come home from this expedition with enlighten.
So what the hell are y’all waiting for? Hop on the flying nimbus, relax, and enjoy the journey through “Pharaoh’s World”.
- Beyond Autism Acceptance (bloggingastrid.com)
- Dating and Autism: Free Tips (psychologytoday.com)
- And then I Came Back …. (myaspiefiles.com)
- ‘Baby-Sitters Club’ author’s latest heroine has autism (cnn.com)
- Mini-Midlife Crisis (My Current Status As Autistic Adult) (timotheusgordon.com)