Saturday, June 3, 2023

Autism Answer: The Core of the Problem


pocket watch

When working with a piece of machinery we can fairly easily believe that the machine will last longer and work better if we care for the various parts. If we fix and maintain things at the core of the machine, rather than jury-rig or jerry-build or find funny ways to make things work (hold one side this way while shifting the other side that way and then press this thing this way, it's not broken it has personality!) they will last longer. If we take care of a machine by noticing things before they become bigger problems and then properly replace or maintain the working parts, the technology will likely be healthier because of it.
That's not to dismiss the tricks we use to make things last. That's not even to say that it is always better to maintain a machine at it's core. But we must admit, usually it is. 
People are not machines, but it is true that we are also generally healthier and happier when we maintain ourselves at the core. 
When we investigate why our knees are hurting rather than only avoid stairs; when we explore the reasons behind our behaviors, the beliefs behind our feelings, rather than only wish we did or didn't have those behaviors or feelings; when we play an active role in creating a life we like rather than only feel hard done by when we don't like the lives we have; when we do the investigating and exploring and make potentially healthy adjustments - to our diets, behaviors, environments, beliefs, etc - we last longer and work better. 
Going with the flow is beautiful, but we must know ourselves well enough to choose which flow, rather than have one (or many) whisk us away; a flow that might threaten to drown us in a life that stifles our ability to be who we like being, or to even discover who that is. 
That's not to dismiss the little tricks we use to make ourselves happy as we are flowing. That's not even to say that it is always a good idea to follow a feeling or behavior to the core. But we must admit, usually it is. 
I think we can make ourselves crazy by examining every little detail of ourselves or others as though it is the most urgent matter. But we can also find ourselves drowning in mismanaged health and lack of joy when we do not examine enough about ourselves. 
If we are particularly different, if our personal machinery behaves in ways that are unusual or extremely challenging, we will find it harder to maintain ourselves, I'm sure. But like an unusual or uncommon piece of machinery, something unique and not mass produced, we are still capable of finding our core and keeping ourselves going. We will have less people who will understand or make space for us, less places to find the parts and information we need, but it is there. 
People are not machines (though some of us have machines as part of ourselves) but people created them. And we created them for us, and sort of in our own image. We build things and explain: This works to move that which shifts this which sends a signal to that which interprets the signal based on this while over here the valves (if properly lubricated) will pump this and ignite that. 
That's how we work. One thing leading into the other thing feeding this other thing and a gazillion things working for and against each other in order for us to be, well, us. <--- Yes, I paid attention in biology and know smart science things.

I do understand the people who scoff at others for caring a lot about nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, and more. I do understand. In truth, I treat my machines poorly, choosing not to take care of what's going wrong but instead jury-rig or bandaid. (Though I try not to scoff at the folks who do take good and proper care of their machines.)
But finding a good balance between taking good care of ourselves and each other, while relaxing and not allowing the work of taking care become a problem itself, is something we ought to applaud. After all, we are responsible for ourselves, and if we applaud that in each other we will be better. Better at being healthy and better at applauding each other. 
Don't be afraid to ask why you feel broken or unable to function properly. Don't be afraid to look inside yourself and seek the core of the problem. 
Always know there is something you can do and you are not unworthy of the work.
You are not a machine, but it's okay to think of yourself in that way if it helps. Something that can be maintained, upgraded, made to work well within the parameters of the machine it is. 
Take care of yourself. Not in a "hold one side this way while shifting the other side that way and then press this thing this way, it's not broken it has personality!" sort of way, but in a getting to the core of the problem way. (Important Note: when we take care of ourselves by getting to the core of the problem we continue to have personality!)
Be patient, it can take time. And admittedly you might not find the core of the problem, but if you don't try you are at risk of adding cumbersome piles of misleading blame over it. You are at risk of wasting time pointing out problems of others because it is easier to see what appears broken than to sift through the mechanics and minute details of every little piece that makes you tick. 
But, man! It is rewarding work! 
When you find the core of a problem and make a change, everything comes into focus and finds itself working well! It's fantastic and invigorating! (Until the shift moves everything into a new place that creates new areas of problems to find the core of.... but, don't let that stop you! The more you explore your own health and happiness machinery, the easier it gets to recognize what's up.)
People are not machines.
But it can be useful to pretend.