Spectrum: Shimmering

I haven’t a strong a sense of self; I have a strong sense of spirit.

Apparently, it’s common for autistic people to hold a “weaker” (Jawer, “Sense”) or “atypical” sense of self (Lyons and Fitzgerald).

Neuropsychologists Lyons and Fitzgerald, in their review, found some studies which attributed this to, among other factors, autistic individuals’ challenges with autobiographical memory and the narrative self. This isn’t my experience: I have an excellent autobiographical memory, and I can recall vivid details from the age of six months on, including the following snippets: lying on my back on my crib while the sunlight poured through the window, grasping my toes, and my brother, sister, and their friend coming into the room to giggle with me; watching dust motes in their golden swirl through the sunshaft that pierced the room when I was three; putting up the hood of my sweatshirt when I was five so that strangers would think I was a boy; and so on, with dozens of tiny moments sprinkled throughout my 59 years on this planet.

I can tell stories about each of these moments, too, and I can weave them into narratives.

My autistic friends have this ability, too: ask them about past moments, and you might be astounded at the detail of their memory and their skill in telling the story.

What’s missing for me, though, is a sense that this happened to me, whatever “me” means, for though the sensory and emotional details of the experience are vivid and easily accessible, the felt-sense of being the same person on the inside is not there.

I attribute this to an increased sensitivity to my internal environment, including the neurochemicals, hormones, emotions, and other responses happening within my body. That internal stew shifts and changes. It is affected by so many external factors: weather; external stress; the feelings and emotions of others; astrological factors; social and political events; noise; light… the list goes on. I feel my internal states acutely, and they shift.

So how I feel inside, which constitutes my own understanding of “self,” shifts and changes and varies in response to a myriad of internal and external influences.

Lyons and Fitzgerald grounded their study of autistic people’s sense of self on Kircher and David’s definition of “self”:

the commonly shared experience, that we know we are the same person across time, that we are the author of our thoughts/actions, and that we are distinct from the environment

(Kircher and David, as qtd. in Lyons and Fitzgerald)

This definition is problematic for me in a few ways: I don’t know that I’m the same person across time. I can conceive that this body, which continually and gradually shifts and changes in form from conception through the present moment, provides a container, a vessel, for the experiencing self–the conscious self–which moves and experiences through time. But I cannot hold that this is “the same person across time.”

I am not convinced that I am the author of my thoughts, or even, always, of my actions. Some thoughts simply appear. Some thoughts seem to be the result of specific processes. I have learned, through time, not to always pay that much attention to thoughts–I enjoy watching them. I enjoy considering whether they may have something informative or insightful to share. And I very much enjoy not identifying with them.

I certainly do not see myself as distinct from the environment. My experience of life–of being–is that I am an integral part of the environment, of all-and-everything. I am a cell in the greater being that is everything.

I am a cell, and I am a conscious cell.

I don’t have a strong sense of self; I have a strong sense of spirit.

For a while, it felt uncomfortable to me that I didn’t have a strong sense of self, that I would wake up sometimes, especially once I’d entered menopause, with its very different hormonal and neurochemical mix, with the feeling of “I don’t know who I am. I feel different inside.”

Learning about anatta and the concept of “no-fixed-self” in Buddhism helped to some degree, though I still felt some discomfort. And there’s the issue of agency, too, which can be problematic without a strong sense of self.

But the other morning, I came to a sense of peace with not having a fixed self: I realized that not having a strong sense of self is part of my personality–it’s part of who I am. So rather than being confused when I feel differently inside, I can realize, OK. This is just part of my experience. This is how I experience being alive.

I don’t have a strong sense of self: I have a strong sense of spirit.

I also realized that the “sense of self,” as most neuropsychologists present it, hinges on functions of the brain. This means that when the brain stops functioning, this particular understanding of “self” would also stop.

My sense of spirit is not connected to brain functions. (I know some neuropsychologists and philosophers will disagree, claiming that “consciousness” is a function of the brain. I disagree with them.) There is, within me, within each of us, within each cell, within each living being, within, even, the crystals of rock and sand, consciousness. Spirit. This infusion exists outside of the function of the brain. It was there, even in individual form, before the formation of the specific brain cells within our current bodies, and it will be present outside of our current forms, too, when those forms cease to function.

Jawer, in a series which explores connections between autistic people’s weaker sense of self and their gifts, writes that “synesthetes, savants, those with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, the highly sensitive, the gifted, the prodigious, the psychic… have a degree of access” to “the ‘seed ground’ of where we all come from.”

A sense of spirit, a sense of being connected to the greater consciousness, while embodying my own unique and individual portion of consciousness, the divine bliss of being a part of everything and all-that-is, the experience and memories of lifetimes before and lifetimes yet-to-come, that is a gift.

If having this gift means that I haven’t a strong sense of self, I will take it. Even if this were something I could choose–and it’s not, it’s simply who I am–I would choose it. I would choose energy, spirit, the infinite, over the limited sense of self.

Works Cited

Jawer, Michael. “Sense of Self in Autism.” Psychology Today. 7 Aug. 2014. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-too-much/201408/sense-self-in-autism. Accessed 1 Jan. 2019.

— “Sensitivities as Markers of an Infinitude.” Psychology Today. 16 Dec. 2014. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/feeling-too-much/201412/sensitivities-markers-infinitude. Accessed 1 Jan. 2019.

Lyons, Viktoria and Michael Fitzgerald. “Atypical Sense of Self in Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Neuro- Cognitive Perspective.” IntechOpen. 21 Sep. 2012. https://www.intechopen.com/books/recent-advances-in-autism-spectrum-disorders-volume-i/atypical-sense-of-self-in-autism-spectrum-disorders-a-neuro-cognitive-perspective. Accessed 1 Jan. 2019.

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Spectrum: Invisible Friends

Picture of CT with friends

If you were to ask me if I had friends, I would answer, “Oh, yes! Hundreds. Thousands. Millions, even!” 

Can you be friends with an alder leaf, a November cloud, a drop of rain slowly traversing the windshield, an arpeggio in E-flat major played on the cello, the man in the white sweater with frayed sleeves who smiles at you as you pass each other crossing the street, the spade-foot toad on your patio, the magenta pansy smiling from the garden border? A stone? A tree? A path? The planet? Angels?

I feel friends with everyone and everything, and I always have. 

But this doesn’t seem to be the common definition of “friend.”

A 2013 study by Gael I. Orsmond, Paul T. Shattuck, Benjamin P. Cooper, Paul R. Sterzing, and Kristy A. Anderson, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, found that:

– almost 40 percent of youth with ASDs never got together with friends;

– 50 percent never received phone calls or were invited to activities; and

– 28 percent were socially isolated with no social contact whatsoever.

(as ctd. in Heasley, “Study: Nearly 1 In 3 With Autism Socially Isolated“)

Though I’m not a youth and haven’t received an official diagnosis of autism, I fit the remaining criteria for the first two categories: I never (or very, very rarely) get together with friends, and I never (or very, very rarely) receive phone calls or am invited to activities. I don’t consider myself socially isolated because I live with my boyfriend and, Monday through Friday, I interact with five to twenty people daily at my place of employment.

However, a review of the study in disabilityscoop, interpreted social isolation in this way: “almost one-third of those with autism qualified as socially isolated because they never received telephone calls or went out with friends.” I haven’t tracked down the study (only an abstract was available for free reading online), so I don’t know if that’s the definition the authors provide; but it’s the definition used by the reviewer.

So here’s a spot of significant cognitive dissonance in my life. I was born feeling connected to everyone and everything. This state of unity which yoga practitioners yearn for and practice a lifetime to achieve has been my birthright and is always available to me. I feel I am friends with everyone and everything on the planet–we are all cells in the same system, right? And yet, by common standards, I don’t have friends and may even be considered socially isolated.

Yet how can I feel isolated? I am connected to all-that-is, and this connection never leaves me. On my own terms, looking within at the state of my spirit and soul, I am healthy, whole, resilient, well-adjusted, and lacking nothing. I live in the full abundance of energy, of life. 

“Difficulty navigating the terrain of friendships and social interaction is a hallmark feature of autism,” states Paul Shattuck, in a widely quoted interview about this study he led (as qtd. in Heasley).

It depends on how you define friendship, I suppose. 

I am only lonely when I try to fit my social interactions into a standard definition of “friendship,” and I’m not even sure what that means. When I operate within my own lexicon, I am never lonely. I am never even alone, for always, there’s a breeze, a sound, dust motes, sparkles of light, a leaf, a cricket–always, there are friends.

Works Cited

Heasley, Shaun. “Study: Nearly 1 in 3 With Autism Socially Isolated.” disabilityscoop. 8 May 2013. www.disabilityscoop.com/2013/05/08/study-socially-isolated/17905/. Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.

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Lighthouse: Sparks of Dream

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I arrived with the moon rising over the valley. Early the next morning, I’d head up to the back country, where Santi waited with Ritu’s friend. At the mountain cabin, I had plenty of time to think.

I’d brought my journal to occupy the evening, and I let my thoughts return to Momo’s visit. Something in my awoke when I saw her with her family, and I itched to discover what it was.

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We’d been relaxing over late morning coffee while Elui scoured websites for anything that might lead him to David.

“Anything promising?” Sept asked Elui.

“Here’s some anti-Newcrest posts,” Elui said. “Might be something David would be interested in.”

We heard a knock at the door. An extra-terrestrial child, light-skinned, like Sept, stood on the porch.

“Sept?” I asked. “Are you expecting family?”

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The girl introduced herself as Alma Mori, Momo’s daughter.

“Are you Octy?” she asked Sept. “I thought he was little like me.”

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“He is about your size!” Sept said. “I’m his brother!”

She took us out to meet the rest of the family, and Momo explained they were delivering Octy’s new dog.

“We have so many dogs already!” said Alma. “Our dog had pups, and now they’re grown! And so we’re finding homes for them!”

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Momo said she wanted to talk with Sept and “the other one” before we took them to Seb and Octy’s.

She had a focused look, and I wondered if she was scanning Elui and Sept. Sept had never mentioned Momo to me, but I had the impression they knew each other, that she was one of the 144.

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“Momo!” he said, when he saw her.

“You remembered!” she said.

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“Of course!”

He told me later that she was one of the first ones to sing back. She’d been on the ship. The man who adopted her had other extra-terrestrial children. She had a good upbringing, Sept said, with so many siblings. “She was never lonely, like I was,” he said. “She was surrounded with big brothers and sisters.”

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I could see her supportive upbringing in the way she carried herself, with confident grace. She looked like never questioned if she belonged here.

I looked in on Elui.

“We have visitors!” I said.

“I know,” he replied.

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He greeted her with a complex series of hand gestures. Sept explained later it was a cultural greeting. They’d all been taught it as toddlers, as well as taught that it was only to be shared within their group, as a way of acknowledging connectedness.

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“I can’t believe I still remember that!” Momo said.

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“I’m glad you’re here,” Sept said.

“I am, too,” she replied. “I didn’t even think we’d meet you! I was going to tell Octy and your dad to be sure to give you a big hello. I never thought I’d be able to do it myself, in person.”

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Though this was the first time the three had been together since their adoption, they conversed and moved in that way that close friends and family do, with belonging.

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Elui filled Momo in on his current search for David and the leads he’d found, and she listened with all of her being. I was beginning to realize that extra-Ts, at least those like Sept, Momo, and Elui, hear on multiple levels, all the time.

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The subtle communication of thought, feeling, emotion, visualization, even bio-chemistry, are continuously broadcast and received when they are together.

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This redefines privacy and precludes secrecy. I have a feeling that, though many people might claim to want that level of transparency, few would be willing to be as honest and vulnerable as being without mask requires.

But the riches this type of sharing nurtures!  They seem to naturally fall into the deep connection that so many of us, on this planet, at least, long for.

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After the three caught up with each other, we all walked over to Seb and Octy’s.

Lemon was a beautiful dog, sweet-natured and extremely intelligent.

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I always wondered if she was an extra-T. She had an other-worldly quality. It wasn’t just in her mismatched eyes, but in her bright look. Sept said she communicated telepathically with him.

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If she was an extra-T dog, she wasn’t the first.

Mop, the pup Octy’s mother gave him, certainly was no breed from this planet. Mop had grown into a very unusual dog, with huge paws, a funny coiled tail, big mule-deer ears, and a squeaky soprano bark.

She came from a planet called Pu!’Re, where eleven moons reflect the light of the distant, dim sun. The people who inhabit the planet are pale cave-dwellers, roaming the dark forests and meadows to gather food. Through their physical connections with the plants, rocks, and wild creatures, they commune with the spirits of the natural world. For them, physical harmony is the highest good. Pu!’Re boskobo, like Mop, are considered messengers of the deities.

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Octy simply considered Mop his best friend.

Of course, the moment he met Lemon, he had two best friends

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I had begun to suspect that other extra-terrestrial boskobo had somehow come to or been dropped off at this planet. There was a red and white dog we met on the boardwalk who also had an intelligent gaze, and I’ve never seen a dog from around here with fur like that.

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Sebastion was thrilled with Lemon.

“She’s beautiful!” he said. “Are you sure you want to give her away?”

Momo assured him that it would be for the best, considering their crowded home.

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Seeing Momo and her family affected me more than I would have imagined. I suppose my heart still hurt from my father and mother disowning me. We’d never been that close, and I always knew that their values weren’t what I wanted for myself, but still, I felt I belonged with and to them, in some way, even as I struggled to break free.

Seb’s house was full with all of family, and the kitchen rang with laughter, singing, jokes–even little Winter Mori’s temper tantrum. It felt like a home should feel.

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I found I missed that feeling of belonging to a tribe, if I ever had it, and maybe I missed it all the more, for never having had it.

Of course Sept and I belonged with each other–I always felt how he found home in me. But in those moments when I was deeply honest with myself back then, I realized that, while I brought home to him, I myself didn’t feel I belonged–not when I saw him with Octy or Seb, not when I saw him with the pagotogo, not when I saw him with Manny or Whisper, and not when I saw Momo with her family.

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I could almost see the lines of affection that connected Momo to Ayaka to Alma to Winter. When one moved, it was as if the other sensed it.

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Ayaka, Momo’s wife, was from here, and she held an integral point in the family. She sparked a hope in me that maybe I could, too, someday. Maybe I could feel a child’s needs before she felt them, and be there with the hug, or glass of juice, or word of encouragement that she needed.

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I wanted that. I wanted freedom and independence–and I had them. But I also wanted, as a free and independent being, the invisible strings of family love to connect me to others.

Early the next morning, as I warmed myself by the fire, I let myself feel the depth of this longing as fully as I could. As each spark rose, I imagined it carrying my dreams of family, my dreams for community, my thirst for a tribe. Let these sparks fly!

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Author’s Note: Many thanks to Xantheanmar for sharing Elui with our story. You can learn more about him at  Potatoes and Carrots by Xantheanmar. And big thanks to Kira for letting Lemon come live with Seb, Octy, Mop, and the baby! I’m so happy that Momo and her family brought her, too! You can learn more about this lovely family at KK’s Sim Stories.

Forgotten Art: Meadow – Kaitlin 10

A reply to: A letter from Kaitlin

meadowdove107

Dear Kaitlin,

Thanks so much for your words of kindness! You know what it’s like to be a busy working mom–sometimes we’re moving so fast that we don’t even get a chance to stop and appreciate all we do each day! Your kind thoughts helped me pause for gratitude!

Jasper believes that gifts are to be shared–I’ve always known when he’s said that that he’s referring not just to the traits and talents we’ve been blessed with, but to our privilege.

You’ve got a big, loving heart, so you share it with all your kids and grandkids, and with Leroy. I’ve got a nice house and plenty of resources–and I used to have time!–so I share those with Jena, and now with Mizuki Suzuki.

meadowdove111

I don’t have much free time anymore, with going back to school. But it’s a three-day weekend, so that brings me leisure to write to you!

I’m so glad you find Ira inspiring. I do, too. She’s kind of a nut, actually. Well, she’s a great match for my nutty brother. Do you know they both still play with toys? It’s funny, but why not? It makes them happy. They’ve created this entire imaginary universe that they populate with characters based on their favorite toys. You’d think that Aari, Ira’s daughter, would be part of that, right? But she’s far too practical. She just rolls her eyes and lets her parents talk about Miss Meowness’s adventures and the llamacorn’s escapades.

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It works for them. I’ve been reading a lot about play therapy. Most of the research is on play and children, but, especially with someone as childlike as my brother, I can imagine that the findings transfer.

Landreth (2002) notes that “play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego” (as ctd. by Lilly, et al. 2016).

Ira and Norman seem to use it as a tool for communication and bonding: they can say things through play that they might not be able to approach in a more direct fashion, and this shared communication style connects them in a healthy way.

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Mizuki Suzuki is big into play, too! With her, I think it’s how she relieves stress and boredom. She’s taken on the house-cleaning chores while I’m in school, but really, I think this is just an excuse for her to “pick up the toys,” which is her code for “let’s play with all of Jena’s stuff!”

meadowdove108

Jena does a great job of playing with me, Jasper, and Mizuki Suzuki, but she has yet to learn how to play with kids her own age! Well, that’s what preschool is for, right?

The other day, one of her little friends came home with her. Immediately she started asking him, “So, what do you want to be?” When he didn’t answer right away, she shot out all these suggestions: “A panda bear? An abominable snowman? A sloth? You could be a sloth! And I’ll be an aardvark!”

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He just looked at her, confused.

She’ll learn to leave space for other people’s ideas, right?

Speaking of space, it sounds like you could use a little space in your life. So many things happening! So many connections between all the people you care about, and even between those you’re trying not to care about!

But I know you: Even those people you’ve had challenging relationships with–even those people you don’t want in your life anymore–you still care about them.

meadowdove106

And when we care, that’s when the tangles can happen. Your situation sounds complicated now–family complications, legal complications, professional complications, romantic complications.

It must have been a real shock to run into Newt. I can see why it felt like a betrayal that you hadn’t been told he was in town. You didn’t have a chance to prepare yourself.

meadowdove105

You know what? I’m glad you took a few weeks’ break from Leroy and Dr. Shea after all of that. I can understand the jealousy. I wonder, too, if there was a feeling of lack of control: It seems that they were making all the decisions for you, rather than sharing information with you so that you could make your own decisions for yourself and your kids.

That must have been hard. And even though you had a break from Leroy, you still had all the kids to care for, so I’m sure you felt like you had to keep it together.

Through all this, do you ever get time for you, where you can slow down to feel your own heart beat? Maybe you find your heart as it beats for others.

meadowdove104

I have faith that everything will work out. Things are messy now, but things don’t stay perpetually messy, do they? Or rather, new messes come to take the place of the old ones that get cleaned out!

I’m so sorry to hear about Reid. That must challenging, especially for Ben. When someone we care about is in trouble, it can feel so devastating. I can imagine that Ben is feeling that way about Reid, and now you’re feeling that way about Ben. I wonder if it would help him to know how much it hurts you to see him feeling unhappy and worried. He’s pushing you away right now, but maybe it’s because he really needs you, and this feeling has him scared, especially when so many other people, big and little, need you, too.

It sounds like you’ve thought through your situation with Dr. Shea. You have such good intuition that if you feel she’s your best choice, then I’m sure she is!

Do you know that Jena has decided that her favorite game is “Therapist”? I guess it’s like how some kids play doctor. She knows that I’m studying to be a therapist, and when she asked what a therapist was, I told her that it’s someone who guides people to find their strength, especially when they’re feeling scared.

So when we play dolls, she has her doll be the therapist.

“Are you scared now?” Her doll asks mine.

“Oh, yes!” Mine replies. “Very!”

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She giggles at that, and then we talk through all the things that might make a little doll scared, which, coincidentally, are all the things which make her feel scared.

Right now, her biggest fear is the Void Monster which comes out of the kitchen faucet in the middle of the night, when the water is turned off.

The Void Monster’s kryptonite are bubbles. So when she does the dishes, she feels safe all night.

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When I told Jena tonight that it was a three-day weekend, which meant an extra day at home and extra time to play, she said we should have Ira and Norman come over.

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“That way,” she said, “if we run out of things to play, they can give us new ideas!”

So I guess Sunday will be a big Family Play Day. I’m hoping Jasper will come, too. He said he picked up some kites in the Spice District, and I think Jena’s almost old enough to learn how to fly a kite.

Amazing, Kaitlin! Remember when we first started writing, and both our daughters were such little things? I really owe it to you to helping me through those confusing early days! You’ve been such a great role model and such a great Mom coach!

Sending you lots of love–I know you’ve got so much strength already, so instead of sending strength, I’ll send peace.

So much peace,

Meadow

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Forgotten Art: Gee-Jay – Tad 1

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Dear Tad,

We want to be your pen pal. We are me–you can call me Gee–and him. You can call him Jay. Together we’re Gee-Jay.

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We have a very good reason for wanting to be your pen pal.

Actually we have five.

One is that we like to get hand-written letters! We think that too much technology is stupid. We like technology, sure, because video games. But we also think it’s stupid because we like books and pipe organs.

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I also like rocks. When I say I, I mean me, Giuliana or Gee. And when I say he, I mean him, Jasper or Jay. And so when I say we, I mean us, Gee-Jay.

OK. Reason number 2.

I, that would be me, Giuliana or Gee, was very sad.

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I mean really super sad.

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And he, that would be Jasper or Jay, asked me what was wrong. Why was I so sad?

It’s because I miss one of my pen pals. I had this really great pen pal. His name was Dusk. Maybe you know him? Anyway, he can’t write me anymore.

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It’s not that he doesn’t exactly exist anymore. He does. Or maybe not. I can’t really tell. I think maybe he died.

I’m still writing to him, but I don’t think he’ll ever write me again. He says that where he is now, time doesn’t exist, and I figure that you need time in order to be able to write. What do you think?

We, that would be me and Jasper, or Gee-Jay, like to read about time.

Right now, Jasper is reading me a book called The Fabric of the Cosmos, and we’re thinking about, “Can the universe exist without space and time?”

I, that would be me, Giuliana, think yes. And he, that would be Jasper, thinks no.

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What do you think?

So maybe that’s the third reason we want you to be a pen pal, because we want a pen pal who can write to us about questions we don’t have answers for.

But back to reason #2.

When he (Jasper or Jay) found out that I (Giuliana or Gee) was sad because my (that would be Giuliana’s) pen pal wasn’t writing anymore, and was, maybe, possibly, probably dead, or at least existing someplace without time, then he (Jasper or Jay) thought that I (Giuliana or Gee–OK, you get the picture now, right?) would be happier if I (you know, me) had a new pen pal.

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So we (Gee-Jay) looked through the pen pal profiles and we found yours.

And Jasper said, “A spiritual guide!”

And I said, “A gardener!”

And Jasper said, “A gardener!”

And we both said, “That’s the one!”

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So reason #4: A spiritual guide.

And reason #5: A gardener.

Back to why do we (well, really him, Jasper or Jay) want a spiritual guide?

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Well, he (Jasper or Jay–you know) says that at his age, he’s seen a lot of coming and going. Mostly going.

He told me that his wife passed. (That’s what he says instead of “dead.”) And his brother. And his mom and dad. And his grandparents. And his uncles and aunts. And five cousins. And his brother’s wife. And his great-niece’s mom. And about twelve friends. And wow. That’s a lot of passing.

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I felt surprised because he isn’t often sad. But sometimes he is sad. And he says I should write that sometimes we’re all sad, and when you get to be his age, it’s time to make peace with comings and goings, and that’s where a spiritual guide can come in handy.

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Do you know anything about Buddhism? He (that would be Jasper, also known as Jay) talks about Buddhism a lot.

It seems like a lot for a kid like me to think about.

But he says that we will do this together, and it will be OK because I (that would be me, Giuliana or Gee) will get what I need out of it, and he (that would be Jasper or Jay) will get what he needs out of it, and together, we will both be able to learn and share, and then we started to wonder, what will we be able to give you?

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Jasper says that I can give you funniness, because he doesn’t know anyone who’s funnier than me. He also says that I am fun. Both fun and funny.

I say that Jasper can give you smartness because he is very smart and he has read everything. Or if he hasn’t read it, he will. And he will even read it aloud to you.

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That is really nice, to sit next to someone and have them read. It’s like the voice is the connection.

Jasper says that if you write, the energy of the voice somehow enters the words, and then the connection forms that way. I think it’s true because I felt connection to Dusk, my pen pal who is now where time’s not.

Jasper says that you said that you are asking for connection. And that is something that we (that would be Gee-Jay) can give you.

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Because Gee-Jay is all about connection.

But we’re also all about mystery. Especially those mysteries that can’t ever be solved. It’s because we (that would be Jasper or Jay and Giuliana or Gee) are very curious. You might say that we live for curiosity.

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We hope you choose us for a pen pal!

And if not, it was fun to write you anyway. (This means we both had fun, me–that would Giuliana–and him–that would be Jasper.)

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Adios, amigo!

–Gee-Jay

p.s. Jasper told me what your name–not Tad, but the other one–really means, and I think it’s cool! (This is from me, Giuliana or Gee.)

Gee-Jay’s Next Letter >>

Wonder 27

Mae

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Charlie seems to have no idea that he’s the type of guy that girls find cute.

I’m his mom, so of course I’ve always thought he was the cutest thing. I love to tease him just so I can see that lop-sided grin of his.

2707

But I’m not the only one who thinks he’s cute. Since his club has been meeting at our place, I’ve been watching the kids in the club, one of them, in particular.

Miranda’s known Charlie since they were little. He met her one day when he took an adventure all by himself to the park. Later, she transferred to his school, and they’ve become good friends.

She lights up whenever Charlie’s around.

I hope she’s not picking up signals that aren’t really signals. Charlie’s so friendly with everyone that he makes people feel special when he talks to them. I can’t tell by watching them if he thinks she’s more special or if he feels she’s regular special.

Either way, it’s pretty clear that she feels he’s most special.

2706

She’s a beautiful young woman.

When I watch Charlie, Yuki, and Miranda meditating together, I wonder what they’re feeling. Are they thinking of each other? Do they feel connected through a shared sense of peace? Charlie looks blissed-out.

I probably shouldn’t feel envious of my kid, but I do. There are times when I see him express a feeling of integration or wholeness, and I think what I wouldn’t give to feel like that.

2705

“The energy of creativity is free,” he was telling Yuki and Hugo. I was drawn to his words, even though I didn’t agree. I’d been facing a writer’s block recently with a poetry collection I was preparing for publication. The form was fine–both on the individual level of each poem and on the composite level of the entire collection. But the essence was missing. My images were falling flat, and every symbol felt trite. I felt dry, and my words were sand.

“The energy of creativity is all around us!” Charlie continued. “In fact, it’s energy! Close your eyes, feel that movement–what is that? That’s life! That’s creativity!”

2702

Yuki and Hugo didn’t look like they were buying it. I couldn’t seem to grasp it, either, though I wanted to.

I started thinking of objections: life flows around and through us, but how do we express it through our work? How do I sit down and write a poem that says something unique about the experience of being alive, without becoming trite?

What keeps Charlie’s insights from being common drivel, platitudes that express only emptiness?

2703

Later, he and Miranda were talking. It’s Charlie’s sincerity that keeps his words from being empty, I saw. He may not have the vocabulary to express what he experiences, but everything he says comes from something he knows, something he’s discovered through feeling, intuition, sensing, being, or exploration.

Miranda seems to get him. I felt a sudden pang watching her smile in understanding as he was talking about patterns of movement that repeat through energetic pulse, music, color perception, breath, brain wave. The type of unity he described is so beyond anything I have ever experienced, let alone conceived of, and he described it as if it were his native language. Where has this boy come from? Has he always had these thoughts, and did he keep them inside of him until he met the right people that he could share them with? This boy, what universes exist within him that I will never be able to join?

2704

Something shifted in me with that realization–it was as if the block slid aside, and words tumbled out. I knew where my poems wanted to go.

2708

Mitosis

We started as one–
this I get.
That breath we shared, same pulse, same blood.
The pain is simply
the separation
of one into
two.

Centrioles move to opposing poles.
The nucleolus disappears.

You will be moving soon,
somewhere away.
I am preparing.

Go, boy.
Leave me to steel myself
for the mitosis
of my heart.

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