The Thing About Brain Freeways
But having grown up in Southern California and preferring different imagery than comparing my brain to a circuit board, I like to think of our brains as freeways.
To say that Aspies take a different freeway to (sometimes) the same destinations as neurotypical cars—I mean people—is simplifying things, I know. And it opens up a big can of philosophical or ethical (or maybe just Millennial) worms. Sure, we are all different and we are all on our own freeways and we are all special. But let’s just say for the sake of argument that most people’s brains drive the same routes to similar locations. You want to get from Pasadena to Huntington Beach? There are a few routes that are better traveled than others, because they make the most sense.
Some of us are just using a different GPS system.
Take my partner Marcus and me. Sometimes when we have conversations, I get to a point where I’m really frustrated. I start wondering, is this guy OBTUSE? And I guess I get kind of frustrated. (And snippy. Sorry, Sweetie.)
But now, I have a different framework to view things from. If I stop to think about it and work through the steps of what led me to getting frustrated, I can see where his and my routes diverged. He’s on the 605, headed to the 405, and I’m on an access road somewhere in Cerritos. Sometimes I travel faster on the access road, and arrive at a conversational point before he does, and I get impatient and am all OH MY GOD WOULD YOU JUST KEEP UP ALREADY and other times, I stop off at Whole Foods for some mung beans or whatever, and oh look those mangoes look good, and before I know it I’ve fallen way behind and Marcus has to wait for me to catch up.
There are sections of the freeway that back up with traffic, while I speed by on my alternate route. Then there are times when I hit every single red light and wish to all get-out that I could hop on the freeway with everyone else. But try as I might, I can’t find the onramp.
I should probably stop with the freeway metaphor but honestly, I really like it, it works. Well, I guess it works for me. Which is the point of this post…
After I came up with this idea, I stumbled across a little blurb in the New Yorker by Jesse Eisenberg, titled “A GPS Route for My Anxiety.” Filled with your basic “make a hard left to avoid the woman on the corner who you have trouble making eye contact with” instructions, it was something I could relate to. Although as an Aspie, it sometimes feels like I don’t have as much control over choosing my route.
However, for the first time in my life, I can make honest decisions about what I like and don’t like, I can declare what works for me and what doesn’t. Yes, I’m sad that this didn’t happen till I was in my 50’s but I guess it’s better than never happening.
Now I can make more conscious, honest choices, and enjoy the drive a little more. Because to quote one of my favorite songs by the Resentments, it’s all about the gettin’ there while the gettin’s good.
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