Food for Thought

Two worthy readings.

From Naoki Higashida, the author of Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8:

Can you imagine a life where you’re confronted at every turn by this inability to communicate? I never know I’m saying the wrong thing until I hear myself saying it. Instantly I know I’ve slipped up, but the horse has already bolted and people are pointing out my error, or even laughing about it. Their pity, their resignation, or their sense of So he doesn’t even understand this! make me miserable. There’s nothing I can do but wallow in despondency.

The best reaction to our mistakes will vary from person to person, and according to his or her age, but please remember: for people with autism, the pain of being unable to do what we’d like to is already hard to live with. Pain from other people’s reactions to our mistakes can break our hearts.
More and more, I’ve noticed the positives about having autism. Two things make this outlook possible.

The first reason is that my parents were never in a state of denial about my autism, nor did they ever consign me to a “special needs” pigeonhole. They just strove to help me get better at doing the things I was good at.

The second reason is that I’ve become better at making decisions for myself. Deciding things for yourself is a vital part of self-esteem.  

Even I, as a child, used to think, “Wow, if only I didn’t have autism, wouldn’t life be great?” No longer. I can’t really imagine myself as not having autism because the “Myself” I’d be wouldn’t be the same Myself that I am now. 

Life is precious, so we try to help each other; and as someone who tends to be on the receiving end of this mutual assistance, I feel especially heartened when people stay cheerful and positive as they assist me. Every single time someone treats me with kindness, my determination to live well from tomorrow is rejuvenated. This is how I feel empowered to give something back to my family and society, even if my contribution is modest. 
From the New York Times, The Universe Doesn't Care About Your 'Purpose'

Most everyone strives for happiness. Today, the standing dogma is that purposelessness and disorder are nihilistic. Whether you’re mulling a major life change or healing from trauma, being told that there’s no purpose in life might be particularly devastating. The chances are better that you’re looking for an ultimate explanation. Or you could simply be searching for that something or someone meant for you — God, a soul mate or a calling of sorts.

Modern science explicitly jettisons this sort of teleological thinking from our knowledge of the universe. From particle physics to cosmology, we see that the universe operates well without purpose.

In the grand scheme of things, you and I are enormously insignificant.
But not entirely insignificant.
For starters, we are important to each other.

Purpose springs from our longing for permanence in an ever-changing universe. It is a reaction to the universe’s indifference to us.  

An indifferent universe also offers us a powerful and compelling case for living justly and contentedly because it allows us to anchor our attention here. It teaches us that this life matters and that we alone are responsible for it. Love, friendship and forgiveness are for our benefit.
So, take a moment to think about the mythologies informing your purpose. I’ll reflect on mine, too. The universe, however, won’t. And that might be the most meaningful distinction of all.


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