2012 in Review: Unexpected JourneysDecember 30, 2012
I can’t just go running off into the blue! I am a Baggins, of Bag End!. ~from “The Hobbit”
Another year is over, while still another begins. That is perhaps the theme that resonates most with me from the past year: that for each door which closes, another opens somewhere. The world is full of equal and opposite reactions. Some of them we don’t even notice because they seem small at the time.
It was gently ironic that the subtitle to the blockbuster The Hobbit was “An Unexpected Journey.” That’s exactly what 2012 was for me. At this time last year I was still at a completely different location working a completely different job, wondering if I’d ever have grand adventures and/or move to something more suited for my quirky Aspie personality. If a wizard had come along and told me that, within the year, I’d have not only a promotion, but a job almost tailor-made for me, I’d have scoffed at him much the way Bilbo Baggins did Gandalf the Grey.
Another part of my Unexpected Journey has been, of all things, a deeper and more meaningful connection with my circle of friends. For many years I was terrified of allowing anyone to get too close. I’d been hurt so much that I just figured friends weren’t worth the trouble. How wrong I was. I don’t know where I’d be without them. Some of them I see fairly often and others are scattered over the entire globe. A few I’ve never even met in person. They have been the company of brave Dwarves to my timid Hobbit. And, as their leader Thorin Oakenshield says, I would take them over any mighty army.
Of course, every journey has its share of obstacles. Whether they are fire-breathing dragons or something much more boring, they exist. One thing I have discovered is that worry does nothing but waste energy. I can’t change the national economy or the price of gas or the squabbling partisanship in Washington. What I can do is try and stay informed, and voice my opinion whenever possible. As Bilbo does during the course of the film, my goal is to try and do what is right, even in the face of fear. Worrying about “what-if” scenarios doesn’t get me anywhere.
One of my major prerogatives for 2013 is to work outside my comfort zone. This will hopefully be much easier since my social wear and tear will be lessened in the new position. I will have time and energy to learn Spanish, take yoga lessons, write my manuscript, cook new foods. Maybe I won’t do all these things but they are definite goals. I’ve been living in a hobbit-hole of my own making for some time now. It is comfortable but I feel the call of an adventure somewhere out in the world.
I also feel the calling to somehow be an advocate for AS and the autism community as a whole. One of the reasons I didn’t write anything in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre was, understandably, my own visceral reaction to the tragedy, but also the reports that the shooter may have had AS. Kids on the spectrum have it hard enough without the added stigma of such a horrific event. Because I’m on the higher-functioning end of the spectrum, I can help dispel harmful myths and present a positive role model for a world that often doesn’t understand autism. Whether this will be as a volunteer or in a professional role, I’m not sure, but it is something I feel needs to be done.
Most importantly, in 2012 I hope to accomplish two small, but meaningful, things each week. The first is the idea of a Gratitude Jar to be filled all year, then read at the start of the next new year. In addition to my daily journal-writing exercise, this will be a way for me to focus on all the positive things that happen. In addition, I’m also hoping to learn a new skill each day. I have no idea how to properly sand wood or bake a cherry pie or sew in a straight line. With dedication, that may change.
In short I hope to make 2013 a year of learning and of gratitude. I’ll also be cutting back on my number of posts here to work on my book; I still plan to post once a week or so. Happy 2013 to one and all!
What have you planned for 2013? Are you making any resolutions? Setting goals?