Often I will not mind being the one who regularly sits back or stands in a corner and lets others do all the talking and make all the noise. The quiet observation means I often see things most other people do not, and I enjoy having “busy” eyes and noticing things. And I’m usually so exhausted by the emotions of a stressful world that I am glad I’m not forced to fill the gaps with words I haven’t had time to be sure I want to say.
But sometimes I know I could have said so much more and so much better and the feeling of things unsaid or things unchallenged hangs in the air for years and years, and I find myself haunted by the ghosts of dead conversations and the phantoms of lost opportunity. I will always have a heart heavy with the untrue stuff I’ve let people think.
Despite this regular yearning to go back in time, to put things straight, to explain myself or challenge some assumptions, I still wouldn’t swap what I’ve got.
I wouldn’t want to be confident, outgoing and able to say exactly what I’m feeling and say it well in exchange for my quiet reflection and my eye for detail.
Today, when I was out walking the dog, I was surrounded by fields of buttercups and dandelions against a rich blue sky. The dandelions were mostly turned to seed heads ready for the next gusts of wind, and the buttercups gleamed with such a saponaceous yellow I realised how they got their name. As I walked along, one dandelion stood out as taller and straighter than the others; its seed head lifted proudly above its neighbours (that’s not it in the picture. I didn’t have my camera with me so I had to find one in the garden when I got home). But when I passed it I realised it was leaning to the right and was in fact quite crooked. It was just that one angle that had made it look straight. It wasn’t better or more special than any of the others at all but you’d be forgiven for being fooled by just one glance. (Yes, as I write this, I am thinking of people I’ve met who can fool others!)
I believe the autistic brain has an eye for detail and gift for noticing unusual things. We don’t see a whole view but the things that make it up. I saw the first swallow in my peripheral vision a few weeks ago, and so we were ready for them and looking up at the sky when they all flew by. Like a camera that zooms in and out, we zoom in and see the bits and bobs of life, the exquisite elements of the natural world and the nitty gritty reality of weeds and muck in a beautiful view. I wrote recently how an eye for detail can be a burden sometimes – especially when you apply that detailed observation to yourself or jobs that need doing, but on the whole it is an exciting and fun way to be.
PS I wrote a Flash Fiction called Zoom Out three years ago, so it’s about time I wrote something called Zoom in