Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Autism Answer: The Man on The Wall

I was left nearly speechless last night, friends! Shay, my seventeen year old son, shared with me in detail a dream he had, the story he wants to write, and the meaning he believed it had. 

Now, I know Shay is brilliant and insightful in strange and sometimes scary ways. His confidence when connecting the problems inherent in the school system, for example, when coupled with his confidence in telling school officials all about it, has put us in challenging positions. His willingness to bravely walk into a room filled with bigoted and racist people specifically so he can tell them why they're dangerous, wrong, and cruel, knowing even the attitude that his opinions and ideas are equal to those of any adult in the room will anger and inflame them, has frightened me on more than one occasion. 

I taught my sons this, that they are equal and brilliant and free to think for themselves, but I didn't always know the dangers. I'm glad I didn't because, had I known, I don't think I would have been brave enough to teach what's right. My son, though, is brave. 

But he's also seventeen. He's brilliant and brave, with seventeen years of experience and seventeen year old angst. So his brilliant and brave connections are still less deep and more angry than I imagine they one day will be. 

Last night, friends, they were deep and the anger was absorbed into the narrative brilliantly. 

The dream, connections, and insights are his to tell, and he is planning on telling them. He spent the night writing it down and will probably turn it into a short film. But for now, he's given me permission to share some points.

The Dream/ The Story

*A school exists where the students are surrounded by a wall, a wall that they're told is to keep them safe from the outside world. 

*A drug exists that makes people hallucinate and see their surroundings as ugly and dead. They're told never to take this dangerous drug. 

*A group of students take the drug and adventure to the wall, which they feel curious and compelled to climb over. A man who lives on the wall greets them and invites them to come in. 

*Once on the other side they see diversity, nature, and beauty. "It looks like a forest in British Columbia." my son describes. They have been told that it's dangerous and cruel here, so they are sure that what they see now isn't true. 

*The students expect the drug to wear off and know that then they'll see the true ugliness on the other side of the wall. But when it wears off there's still only beauty. Until they look back. From this side there is no wall, and they see their school is decrepit and dead. They disappear into the beauty. 

*Two teachers (they are male, all the teachers are male) from the school go looking for the students and decide, also, to take the drug. Assuming it will give them insight into where the students would have gone. The hallucinations are intense and everyone looks dead. 

*At the wall they meet the man who greets them kindly. In return they are cruel, knowing what they've always been told: That things from the other side of the wall are dangerous and cruel. 

*The man then gives them what they expect, sending them cruelly away (with an imaginative and symbolic action sequence). 

*The teachers head back to their school, which looks decrepit and dead because of the drug, to warn others about the man from the wall. But their own fear and rush to conclusions sends them to their own demise. 

*I don't want to give away the ending. But it's insightful, and lovely, and intelligent. And kind of creepy. 

His Interpretation: My son then tells me that the dream is probably a direct result of Donald Trump talking about keeping others away, the drug represents truth, seeing everything within the wall as "dead" is symbolic of how we might as well be dead when we don't think for ourselves and welcome diversity, and my son says that in the dream HE was the man on the wall. He was the man who could see it all at once. 

The story, the dream, the connections are not unique to my son. We've all seen movies and read books and had dreams that tell this story. But it's always impressive and far more deeply known and understood when we create and share the story ourselves. For my seventeen year old son to have this dream and understand it, and then to feel obligated and excited to share it, that is somewhat unique. 

And very much him. Very much "a Shay thing" as we say around here. 

I get afraid sometimes of what can happen when my sons speak out and tell truths that threaten people with power. But because my son is only happy when following his true thought train, I'm more afraid of what can happen, what does happen, when we don't speak our truth. 

When we accept the wall and the stories we're told. When we don't experiment and see for ourselves.
When we choose to be anybody but the man on the wall. 

For me, that means allowing my sons, and myself, to tell our truths and live with the consequences. 

Until our truths change the consequences.
I hope you'll join us on the wall. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

He was up all night writing, and snacking on cereal.