Sunday, April 13, 2008

On Being Oblivious

Everyone who has known me from birth through today has found I have one characteristic that has been quite consent. It is my obliviousness to the world around me. Why I'm like this is beyond me. However it's always been like that. It's more than just not paying attention. Even when I am very attentive and concentrating on the world I still seem to miss a lot of what's happening.

Usually it's just a minor annoyance. But when it comes to people it can be far more significant. See, I don't notice things like body language or vocal inflection. In fact direct conversation has, on occasion, gone right over my head. I've been able to bumble through life this way with no major problems. Well, none that I'm aware of (he said grinning). But just the other day I found out something that I had no clue even existed.

It happened about 17 or 18 years ago and would have been a major event in anyones life, other than mine of course. The event is something I do remember but for me it meant little and carried no implications. Then a couple of days ago I was told that it had a life changing affect on someone very close to me. Not to mention myself.

No, I'm not going to go into details. Let's just say it was something that the vast majority of people would find to be obviously, massively, unequivocally disastrous.

The biggest problem to come out of this, though, is not the fact that it happened (though that was bad enough). It's the fact that I had no idea, no concept that it was more than just a minor occurrence of a of a forgettable happening. My obliviousness is what made it such a massive thing.

One thing I have always tried to get people to understand is that I do not do well with hints and clues. If you want me to notice anything you have to "hit me on the head with a two-by-four." I guess everyone thought I was making a joke or exaggerating for effect. For myself I didn't realize how understated that comment was. It's not a 2x4 I need but a 12 lb brick dropped right on my head.

There's been a lot of attention recently about autism and it's much higher than previously thought occurrences. I wonder if there's a bit of it running around in my synapses. There's no way I would know. At least not from inside my head. But maybe I should get tested if for no other reason than too rule it out.

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