Imaginary Future; Concrete Present / The Asperger Way

Entry from WikiHow

The “normal” thing to do is to plan your life, so that at your funeral, people will say nice things about you.

“Determine what roles you play in the present. Every day we perform different roles (from student to son, from artist to biker). What you want to do is think about the roles that you are currently playing in your daily life. These roles could include (among many, many others): Traveler, student, daughter, writer, drawer, employee, glass-blower, hiker, grandchild, thinker, etc.Consider the roles you want to play in your future. Many of these future roles might overlap with the roles you have right now. These roles are the nouns you would want to use to describe yourself at the end of your life.”

“Consider the roles you are playing right now. Are any of them unnecessarily stressing you out? If so, that role might not be one that needs to continue through your life. Prioritize these roles from most important to least important. This exercise will help you to determine what you really value in life and what is most important to you. Keep in mind, however, that this list is completely changeable–just as you are constantly changing.[3]Your list might look something like: mother, daughter, wife, traveler, glass-blower, mentor, volunteer, hiker. Determine the reason behind the roles you want to play. A role is a great way to define yourself, but the reason behind why you want to play the role is what gives it meaning.”

“Maybe you want to be a volunteer because you see the trouble in the world and want to do your part to fix it. Or maybe you want to be a father because you want to give your children the perfect childhood.[ One way to help you define the purpose of your role is to imagine your own funeral (yes this is rather morbid, but it really works). Who would be in attendance? What would you want them to say about you? How would you want to be remembered?”

He who dies with the most flowers wins.

He who dies with the most flowers wins.


And then there is the Asperger Way

It’s early morning. I awoke to heavy gray skies and a smattering of snow. My sprained back is crying out for hot dry conditions: Arizona beckons, or southern New Mexico, both locations familiar from long ago, but what cautions me is how both these places have changed over the years and there are considerations about money. Indecision locks up my thoughts. Does hesitation begin with Aspie analysis or is hesitation an aspect of individual personality? Of course, it could just be that it’s wise to anticipate of risk, but it feels like something more.

Visual thinking is the origin of both happy and unhappy behavior. Visual perception is nourishment: actual food means little to me. I eat to stoke the fire, that’s all, but what I SEE nourishes me. Conversely, if the environment lacks beautiful and yummy things to see, the world is blank and horribly empty. This does not mean that I only want to see “pretty” things, but the world consists of specific detailed information; an urban barrage of meaningless signs and forms and litter and the incessant movement of vehicles and people, is like being forced to eat heaps of junk food; it makes me ill. However, there may be specific parts of a city that are exciting or pleasing.

When young, I read books voraciously, but I see now that it was for the visual stimulation. I gravitated to books with at least a few illustrations: What I wanted to see was whether or not the artist’s conception of a critical point in the story matched my running visualization. Could I call this intense visual experience addiction? Why not? It is the alpha and omega of my reality.

A particular frustration is the lack of visual information in our modern environment. This may sound crazy given the tonnage of “images” uploaded to the internet every second, and a clutter of corporate logos and ads everywhere, but most of what appears is designed to grab attention just long enough to sell the least common denominator – a nanosecond of stimulation – images that collect in the brain as the flotsam of human culture – the equivalent of plastic crap that today clogs the oceans.

There is a social tyranny against truth in the U.S. that often operates under the title “sensitivity” or worse “empathy” but this masquerade of words is minor compared to the monetization of relationships and human value. Quality of life today is the exclusive domain of the wealthy consumer. The grossly inflated price tag equates to status, but also to the quality of needed objects and services; food, healthcare, housing.

I would say that I suffer from indecision in some areas of life because The Now exists big and bold and detailed and specific, but the future is unformed – it is a state of potential. The imaginary space called the future must be formed by action; it is not pre-existent. To the modern social human a list of obligations with an itinerary and schedule attached is the future. It’s not. The ticket for a specific flight does not guarantee that the airplane will be at the gate on time, won’t be overbooked or cancelled, or that you, the ticket bearer, will show up. If one arrives at a luxury beach resort, what may exist are bed bugs and a dirty bathroom; the beach polluted and miles distant. For the most part consumers buy words not real objects. The objects are incidental to a brand logo and outrageous claims attached to crummy products.

This Asperger’s action may appear to be impulsive – suddenly I act without warning in the view of an observer. Behaviors that conform to narrow neurotypical boundaries are prescribed and controlled; being impulsive is a no-no as grave as being indecisive. The “normal” route to the future is “making a plan.” Try Googling, How to plan. The plan is overwhelmingly, The Plan.

Advertising is all about making the mundane and conformist path appear to be extemporaneous and daring. That is, the dull and rut-bound average person becomes exciting, exceptional, innovative, creative, bold – all the supposed traits of high status individuals – merely by purchasing a particular vehicle. The error is in believing that high status individuals are exciting, etc. They have the funds to do and buy exciting things. 

What outsiders don’t understand is that what looks like hesitation may be the Asperger performing a careful review of options.  What looks like impulsive action or decision-making may be the culmination of a very long analysis of what is prudent, necessary, or correct for that individual. A great deal of this type of thinking is unconscious, and just like today, I find myself standing by for instructions from my brain. My brain uses an if / then contingency algorithm that can be simple or complex depending on the task. In the meantime, while waiting for directions from my intuitive (unconscious) processing, there are plenty of interesting ideas to chew on.

This may be the characteristic that neurotypicals can least comprehend about Asperger individuals –

Unless we have a compelling reason to do something, we don’t do it.

The Neurotypical compulsion to plan and schedule what they will be doing every moment of every day is baffling, especially when imposed on children. The present is sacrificed in service to an idea called the future – a supernatural construct, which due to the uncertain nature of events, is not likely to be coerced by words into what is imagined.



2 thoughts on “Imaginary Future; Concrete Present / The Asperger Way

  1. I appreciate this article very much and I share this vision.
    The last years ( maybe during my whole universitarian study time) I was very inmersed into the idea of “ hero of the thousand faces” of Joseph Campbell and stimulating my creativity with Julia Cameron. But in my quest the “ only” gift I bring back from my journey is – being different and I don’t share the wishes of Achilles. Is passivity not also an active posture to the world? Do I have to be productive for being a good person?

    I love your blog and I would like to use and comment it in my coach training for Aspergers.
    ( of course quoting you correctly!).
    Many greetings!


    • Of course, you may use anything you like from the blog. That’s why I write it. Passive may be the NT view; I see us as being “receptive” to the environment; a vessel filling up, so that something important can flow out again. Patience is required! Thinking is productive, even if NTs can’t see it. I have struggled all my life with the NT “lure” of “doing something socially acceptable” and the rewards that come with that, but chose to walk away from two careers. How many times was I told that I was wasting my talent? But their purpose was not my purpose. I love this Bhudda quote: (not exact!) “You have to let go of things that are not meant for you.” I think most people would read this as negative – letting go of wonderful things that you want but can’t have, but it can mean letting go of what is not good for you, so that you can find what is right for you.

      Thanks for your comment; it means a lot to me.


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