What does it look like when an archaic version of “the masculine” (patriarchy, power, ego, control, conflict, greed…) gets dismantled and yet, Nature knows, there needs to be some sort of holding pattern for the best kind of masculine traits, through the transition era; plus a rapid process of reacquainting ourselves with what the more divinely orchestrated version of those traits look like, from a long, long time ago?
I speak of logic, reason, literalness, accuracy, truth, justice, protection, principles, universality, orchestration, organisation, orderliness, preciseness, ritual, rhythm, routine, structure, strength, movement, growth, focus… These can be beautiful, necessary, divine qualities in their highest forms and we can sometimes overlook them in our pursuit of all things feminine; the backlash to an era of harshly distorted interpretations.
And who is doing the dismantling? Whilst it may seem to be us (just look about you…the most archaic structures of the world are being challenged and dismantled everywhere we look in “the news”) it is really an impulse of the universe; the end of the piscean age and the start of the aquarian. This wheel of change started turning, oh so slowly, a couple of hundred years ago, picked up some speed in the early twentieth century and started to gather significant momentum from the late 1960s. Even more so from the mid 1980s when the eighth wave gained its first foothold (for more on physicist Dr Carl Johan Calleman’s theory about the nine waves of cosmic impulse overseeing our evolution, seek out my various posts on the Nine Waves of Creation), which I consider to be synonymous with this era of the “changing of the guard” from dominantly masculine into a more feminine and, ultimately, a more balanced world. The eighth wave brought the balancing factor of the “missing feminine” back into the picture and now (since the start of the ninth wave in 2011) we are tasked with “putting it all together” into a whole that includes both aspects as one and in balance.
As the Age of Aquarius (so much more than just some way-out abstraction sung about by 1960s hippies) clicks into its groove from 2020 onwards (to me there is no accident to that mirrored sequence of numbers…20:20 vision also springs to mind) we are about to have to get seriously good at this and, as ever, the real work is an “insider job” which we each get to tackle in the areas of life that have felt the most challenging and demanding of our attention for all of our lives to date. I think it’s fair to say that, if we agree to face (not avoid…) this inner work, we can expect some sort of breakthrough in the coming months.
Did you ever feel like you were born for some sort of higher purpose that you could never quite put your finger on? That’s because you were. Those of us in Generation X were born to this age of momentum and paradigm shift; conceived just as the wheel changed up a gear, so we are the forerunners of this transition age, leading the way you could say. If you are of that generation, you may be wondering why your life has seen so many changes and felt so, well yes, unsettled and transitional over the last handful of years…as though you cant quite stitch this part of your life together with what came before, like they are two quite different lifetimes without obvious continuity. Don’’t worry, it will all start to feel more coherent soon; there are no accidents.
From the mid 1980s, that wheel of change began to get oiled as a whole new wave of change makers were brought into the mix via that next generation which arrived from then into the millennium (and some of us in Generation X are parents to that wave; so we have noticed the shift even more since our children are like a whole other breed).
Meanwhile, waves and waves of those on the autism spectrum began to appear in that same timeframe; which is not to say that they are any more or less important to this shift of ages but to say I suspect they play a key part. There is a theory that autism amounts to “an extreme-male brain” and though I am not comfortable with all aspects of that theory or its blanket application (I’ve covered this in my post for Living Whole and can also direct you to this critique) I concede that, in myself, I am able to equate my autistic traits with a powerfully masculine part of myself…that cohabits with a powerhouse of feminine traits in what is starting to feel like a whole new kind of internal living arrangement to the archaic model that I struggled with before.
From this “world eras in transition” perspective, is it any wonder that autism, which appeared oh-so very rarely from the mid 1700s, at the very start of this age-shifting momentum, and appeared as a handful more cases (enough to gain a name and instigate the study of this bewildering syndrome) during the early to mid 20th century, resulted in a quite a few more us appearing in the 1970s but only got moving like a tsunami from the 90s onwards when the term “epidemic” began to be used in its context.
Of course, the actual amount of autism prevalent in the 1970s slipped under the wire for quite some time since a mixture of misinformation and stigma around it ensured that it was kept out out sight except in cases that were too severe to ignore. Those of us born on the high functioning end of the spectrum in the late ‘60s and ’70s were taught to assimilate neurotypical behaviours to fit in; and the pressure to do so was considerable. I also suspect, given that the trait tends to run in families in a way that means those with it often have exceptionally bright, pedantic, eccentric, technically minded etc. parents and siblings (as did I), we were often able to “hide out” almost invisibly for most of our childhood, especially if we were adept enough at learning neurotypical behaviours to get by in the outside world of school and friends. We were often labeled “geeks” or “shy”, which was socially acceptable at the time. Combined with newly relaxed social expectations during teen and young adulthood (meaning it was now almost expected of young people that they act a little oddly, rebelliously, “colourfully” etc for that first period of their adult lives, in a way that wasn’t known or acceptable prior to the 1960s) we were able to hide ourselves away in a crowd for a number of years, at least for that first part of our lives.
Typically, things became harder for us to cope with as we reached a point of being expected to join the work force and as our neurotypical friends become more typical as they settled down into “normal” life….leaving us all at sea, still feeling oddly different and out of step with the world and its expectations. This is the portion of life that gets hard for someone with undiagnosed Asperger’s and, I suspect, is what is leading to so many people recently, but especially women, discovering that they are on the spectrum as they reach their middle years, as I have done. Self-diagnosis of Asperger’s is at an all-time high, if forums are anything to go by, and no I don’t write this off as a fashionable trend or a catch-all for other issues since I am one of them and perceive traits in common across the floor of these growing discussions. There are some compelling first-person accounts appearing on bookshelves, one of which is Asperger’s on the Inside by Michelle Vines, which I found completely relatable from beginning to end.
And what do I find out about this trait as I become more intimate with what I had denied about myself for so many years? Does it still count as “a disability” for someone who has no significant learning disabilities, who is well educated, articulate and capable of independent living, of passing off as unaffected (I said passing off…) in most everyday situations? Only if I measure myself against neurotypical social mores, priorities, interests, tolerance for sensory chaos, tendency for wilful destruction or failure to learn from precedent and (lack of) scruples do I feel at some sort of disadvantage; since they are at such a right angle to mine. If I stand alone in my own corner of diversity, I find I am more than comfortable with my “different” approach to these things, finding my niche amongst others like me, rare though they are and notoriously difficult to prise out of their tucked-away places. I touched upon many of the challenges I have come across along the path of trying to form relationships with neurotypical people in my lifetime in my recent blog Relationships on the Spectrum on Living Whole so I won’t repeat myself here. What I want to focus on is just how positive I am finding my neurodiverse traits to be, now I look them in the eye and own them. I find myself, and I’m far from the first, wishing that they were more widely distributed amongst the population since the world needs more than a sprinkling of them right now.
What (as ever I ask you to do, being my particular area of hyper focus or “special interest”…another autism trait) we all pull back from the crime scene together and look at the MUCH bigger picture here? And if that sounds like a contradiction since, according to the popular stereotype, people on the spectrum prefer to obsess about all the smallest of details then I say to you it is those smaller details, studied “in the laboratory of me” for over fifty years, that led me straight to this almighty “whole” (in the same way that God is always found in the details). I’ve always had this thing for working at both the micro and the macro levels simultaneously. Ironically, given the stereotype applied to us, many neurotypicals don’t seem to be able to see beyond the end of their noses.
So, if autism is a version of the divine masculine trying to shake itself down and remember what it is all about (yes, still in its learning curve, its teething phase…so I won’t dispute that many on the less highly functioning parts of the spectrum have significant challenges coping with life), what if we step back just a little from the pressing urge to eradicate or control it and spend more time studying it, allowing it, watching and learning from all its positives. As so many of those families that have had the greatest success bringing up their autistic children have learned to do; finding, along the way, that these children come bearing such precious gifts, ones which enhance their experience of life and contribute to their own personal growth. These children seem to come as a package, touching all those that come into contact with them and not least themselves. Then, of course, we are starting to witness the high performers come to light; for instance, environmental activist Greta Thunberg (another big-picture person), who credits her Asperger’s as a reason she feels so compelled to speak out about all the mess she is seeing in the world. Can you honestly watch her in action and question whether the world needs autism right now? Another daringly vocal environmentalist with Asperger’s is British naturalist and TV presenter Chris Packham whose “coming out” program “Asperger’s and Me” I reference, with a link to the video, in my other post.
Those on the spectrum are questioners, movers, shakers, speakers of blunt truth; we don’t dress things up or tolerate status quo when harm is involved. These traits empower me and serve as my very backbone when my more visionary, empathic, willingly sociable yet almost hopelessly unstructured side knows not what to do next. Humanity’s more sociable, collaborative traits have always required structure from another source, much like a curious bean sprout requires a trellis to climb (the masculine aspect); the point is, we need to question what kind of structures we hang our efforts upon…are they archaic or do they serve our highest collective purpose? Another string to our bow; people on the spectrum tend to feel an intense degree of connection to the natural world (oh yes!); now, tell me that’s not a much required trait, from some quarter, at this precarious point in our history. Such traits don’t need shunting to the sidelines as “weird pastimes” anymore; they are required centre stage.
Make room at the table for these traits, as I am now doing within myself to a degree I have never allowed myself do before (since I was always trying to deny, hide, sanction or train myself out of them before) and see what arises. As I embark on this inner journey of discovery, perhaps the most potent and profound one I have yet undertaken (though I have embarked on quite a few…), I am finding that my most useful tool is to seek inner harmony at every turn. As that part of me that has learned to be more typical over the longest time, becoming a habit and expectation of normality because I having been conditioned that way and can appreciate the better parts of it, meets this diverse part of me as though for the first time, I am facilitating more and more ways that they can reach out and shake hands across the interface of my core structure as a human being and the results are more than promising. Together, they are negotiating a reboot of sorts; or, you could say, an amicable hand-over into a new administration that mixes the best of the old with the most essential of the new. Now to see how we fare as a collective, doing something similar at the start of this brand new age.
From Steve Silberman’s article “Greta Thunberg became a climate activist not in spite of her autism, but because of it“:
“I see the world a bit different, from another perspective,” she explained to New Yorker reporter Masha Gessen. “It’s very common that people on the autism spectrum have a special interest. … I can do the same thing for hours.” Thunberg discovered her special interest in climate change when she was just 9 years old, and she couldn’t understand why everyone on the planet wasn’t similarly obsessed with preventing it.
A visceral feeling of repulsion toward deceit and hypocrisy is also common among people on the spectrum. As Thunberg told the BBC, “I don’t fall for lies as easily as regular people, I can see through things.” She has a particular contempt for the professional propagandists and apologists who prop up the fossil fuel industry and discourage the development of renewable energy resources, dismissing UK claims about reductions in carbon emissions as the result of “very creative accounting.”
”You don’t listen to the science,” she went on, “because you are only interested in the answers that will allow you to carry on as if nothing has happened.”
I am currently engrossed in Steve Silberman’s prize-winning book: NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently. So far, I can highly recommend it for a feel of the historical context of this phenomenon; quite essential to appreciate its context in these particular times and the gift that it is.