Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Autism Answer: Empty Seats

This photo is called: 
Empty Seats
What I see: 

I see empty seats. I look at this picture and see the empty seat beside me. Then I remember talking to myself while trying to take this selfie so I could show my son that I'm thinking of him. I see the empty seat beside me and then I notice my activist wristband with the cool and clever symbols, symbols of things I try to teach my sons. Peace, love, anarchy, happiness.

Then I see the empty seat again. My son, Shay, almost always comes with me to pick his brother up from school and he sits in that seat. But he's not here right now, he's traveled to California to help my mom out for a few weeks. His first long distance trip alone and I love that he's experienced it! I miss him and I'm happy. I see the empty seat and I wonder if he knows how much space he takes up in my hopes and heart. I imagine all the ways that this trip might be a catalyst for the next phase of his life, an opportunity to know himself better and to know his uncle better and to have such fun with his Dramma while feeling, also, independent. I miss his sensory stim and consider squishing my own cheeks.

My eyes are then drawn to the other empty seats behind me. I see emptiness but feel fullness. Noise, fights, laughter, rock n' roll, and horrible amounts of junk food with weak justifications fill my memory when I see those empty seats. 

I see empty seats and a mom who holds on while she lets go. She's almost afraid not to see the empty seats because then she'll see herself. Not that she doesn't like herself, not at all! She adores who she is! She finds it funny that she rarely remembers to brush her hair and has to keep elastics on her wrist for constant ponytails that hide this laziness. It's just, well, she's still more comfortable seeing herself among her people, as who they are together, and the newness of herself surrounded by empty seats is alarming with it's potential. Potential is delightful but it's also a transition that requires choices. Choices she's already explored and knows will make her comfortable with empty seats. She's not ready to be comfortable with empty seats. Soon, though. Quite soon. 

Because I also see a picture of me, and I have always been comfortable with being comfortable. I have also always loved being alone. And I have always loved to see empty seats only to fill the meaning of them up with feelings from myself. 

When I look at this picture I see empty seats that I fill in with feelings. 

I'm not sure what you see when you look at this picture. Of course, if I had to guess I'd say you see a lady taking a picture of herself. Did I guess right? Spooky! tee hee!

The Point Is: 

When we see people and their pictures we have every right to interpret and imagine the meaning. Indeed, the beauty of images is interpreting and imagining and feeling and remembering and listening to ourselves as we do. But I think it's important to keep in mind that we don't know the story of other people and their pictures. We only know what the pictures mean to us. We only know our own evolving story. And even our own is oddly mysterious. 

We can have such fun exploring our pictures together! Remembering our reasons and laughing at our permed hair and wondering what happened to those jeans with the cool pockets. 

It is a picture of a lady taking a selfie in her car.

But it's more than that, too. 

Taking snapshots and exploring the stories of them, with open minds and a sense of humor, is a fun way to connect and stay in touch with our undercurrent of sameness. The part where our pictures all come down to feelings and hopes and loves and loss and funny hairdos. 

For me, anyway, it's a fun way to fill those empty seats. 

Hugs, smiles, and love!!

Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook) 

Shay getting on the Greyhound.