Whenever something important happens in our world the experts get their long awaited cue to come pouring out of the woodwork. Like they have been hiding in the shadows in a Gollum-ish state feeding on crumbs and picked over fish bones when suddenly BAM! Suddenly the bright lights of providence shine on them and “It’s Showtime!!” Finally, an issue that they are so very familiar with has become a hot button topic and their incredible perspective is needed to tell all of the unwashed ignorant mouth-breathers what it is that they’re all missing. These experts find their way into the blogesphere, the tv, radio, cocktail parties, or onto social media where they are able to unload a giant can of knowledge on your ass.
I’m one of these experts.
I know everything about everything.
Just ask me about a subject and I will give you 400 cc’s of concentrated What For.
An airline crash happened? Perfect! I mean…aside from the loss life, of course. I just happen to be an expert in why planes crash! Helloooooo Anderson Cooper! What are my qualifications? Well, I used to play Flight Simulator on my parents old 1980’s PC. I seem to recall how hard it is to land a giant airplane in the rain. Plus, I watched Sharknado 2. Have you seen the opening scene? It all takes place on a plane. I have also once ridden on a puddle jumper between Cheyenne and Denver that did not have a door on it’s cockpit so I think I have a pretty good grasp on the psychology and behavior of pilots.
Mother Russia is on the march again? Yep, I know all about that too. I’m glad you are asking me about it. I understand exactly what Vladimir Putin is thinking and where his heart is. I’ve watched Rocky IV and I get it. Also, I drink a lot of Russian Vodka so I’m pretty well versed in how to vomit like one of them. Why are they getting involved in Ukraine? Um, it has to do with a very shaky geopolitical situation that is frankly hard to explain to somebody like you. How should the US respond to this type of aggression that has caused such regional instability? I would handle it like they did in the movie Red Dawn. Have you seen Red Dawn? No, not the crap one from a couple years ago that played like an episode of Gilmore Girls in Camo. I mean, have you seen the original one with Patrick Swayze where he plays a teenager who single-handedly (with a little help from the rest of his fellow WOLVERINES!!) defends America from Russia? Yes, I know it was actually Cubans who invade America in that version, but you know what I mean. You don’t? You’re an idiot then….
How are we going to handle the immigration issue? Well, it just so happens that I’m extremely knowledgeable in this complication situation. We should build a wall. A giant wall. Like in Game Of Thrones. I don’t know how much that will cost. Strike that, I probably know how much that costs because I’m also an expert in price analysis. You should see me when I watch The Price Is Right. I’m like a robot who can instantly calculate the exact cost of a Dyson Vacuum while still keeping my eyes on how much inflation has raised the cost of a can of baked beans that’s sitting on the platform on the other side of the stage. If I was ever in a Showcase Showdown against some wide-eyed housewife from Kansas, I’d be her worst freaking nightmare. She’d (and the rest of the viewing public) would know the full and unstoppable power of my expertise in the field of how much things costs. Wait – what were we talking about? Immigration? That’s right. So we build a wall. But get this…it’s a wall of schools. So if people are trying to climb it illegally they will have no choice but to receive an education. Education? Sure, I know about that too….
You’ve heard that expression that opinions are like assholes because everybody has one? I think at last count I have over 375 asshole. I’m a walking asshole farm. I know everything. That’s why I blog. I’m pretty damned amazing at having half-formed opinions on any subject matter.
To be honest, despite my ego’s animalistic need to feel like I’m the smartest person in any room, I am a true clown who doesn’t know much of anything. I get my news from sound bites. I form my ever shifting opinions on how the last song on my Sirius Radio Station (usually the 40-year old friendly) made me feel. I’m not an expert on anything – even on the subject of me. I don’t know the first thing about myself. Seriously. At this point in my life I should know exactly what I want or what my deepest principles are, but I don’t. I’m like a foreign language film without subtitles. Who knows what in the hell I’m all about? I doubt I’ll ever really know. Maybe ignorance will end up being bliss in the end.
When Robin Williams died this week the world exploded with experts on depression and suicide. These experts were everywhere. We couldn’t escape them. They argued with each other about why he took his own life after a long war with severe depression. There is something beautiful about being a witness to two different people who both feel so passionately that they are right argue with each other without ever listening. It’s like dueling speeches. It’s always a super-ego throw down dance-off. Some folks blasted Robin as a selfish prick who took the easy path out. Some folks pardoned him because he was helplessly swept away by the dark tides of this terrible disease. These arguments have raged on television screens, Facebook statuses and in casual coffee house conversations. Everybody is yelling at each other as if they know exactly what happened – when the only person who really knows what was happening in Mr. Williams heart was him.
Often times in these debates about the epidemic of suicide that permeates our culture one person will try to trump another person by claiming the title of “Expert”. They have the self-proclaimed title of expert because, they too, suffer from depression, so they are the only one who could know about what was going on with Robin Williams. I have seen people spin this advantage from either side of the argument. There are those who are depressed who say that his actions were cowardly, and there were those who have the same affliction who say that he was left to feel as if he had no choice. I have become one of those people who uses my own predisposition to be blue to promote my point of view on the subject.
I’m one of those who often finds myself unable to get out of bed in the morning (afternoon and evening too) because of the unseen and weightly blanket of depression. I have felt the seemingly irrational feelings of abject hopelessness and despair that keep me leaves me paralyzed to get my life moving in some sort of fucking direction. I’m quite accustomed to the sensation of being trapped so deeply inside yourself that it appears impossible to find a spot of light that will help you find a way out. Depression is something for me that is a real monster (with drooling fangs) that will always be hungrily waiting for me to visit it in the basement of my heart. It is not quite the force in my life that it once was – but I know it’s song will always remain as white noise in the background of my time on Earth. I really do understand how depression coils itself and then tightens around people…
That doesn’t make me an expert on what was going on with Robin Williams. It means I have empathy and a limited perspective to how he felt. It doesn’t mean I get to speak with any kind of authority on the subject. Other people can. I can’t. I’m sorry to those who I may have started blathering on about the nature of depression. I really have no fucking clue to what it means to other people. I’m only an expert on what it means to me.
This song is the best way I can describe how feeling depressed affects me. This is it. Just because I stuggle with it does not make me a mouthpiece for it. It doesn’t mean that I get to talk with any kind of authority about the suffering of Robin Williams. I’m not on his same exact highway. I don’t share his exact same demons. It just means I know how it feels to have depression. I can’t explain his. I can only explain mine. The lyrics of this song perfectly describe it for me:
I have the same issues on the subject of Autism. I’m no expert on it. I’m just a parent who helped (and by helped I mean I simply got the hell out of my wife’s way) my son navigate the maze of ASD. I’m only a dude who knows what it feels like to be a daddy to a child living with Autism. That’s it. I get emails from people from time to time asking me to give them advice for what they should do to help their Autistic children. I always answer it in the same way:
I don’t know. I have no clue. I have no answers for anybody else because I only know what worked for us – and what worked for us may not work for them. My only advice is the following:
1) Try anything and everything. Even if it’s weird. Make no judgments about if something will or won’t work. Try it. Any form of therapy is in bounds. Any.
2) Take care of yourself. Whatever that means. If that means that you have to take a bath every night in skim milk – do it! If that means you have to listen to (and sing proudly at the top of your lungs) some old New Kids On The Block for hours at a time – do it! If that means you have to read some really trashy novels that were written by somebody who works for the late night Cinemax production team – do it! Whatever you need to do (aside from causing yourself harm) to survive, do it. I would hope that whatever you need to do is somewhat positive and life affirming – like jogging or painting or something, but it won’t always be. When Noah was diagnosed with Autism I needed to eat. I ate all the time. I was the monster who ate Cheyenne. I ate and ate and ate until I fluffed myself into a caricature of myself. I don’t regret it. It was what I needed at the time. Since then I’ve made better choices and taken a bit more control over my diet – but during those early dark days I decided to embrace my growing form. I also took to writing. It gave me the chance to process my rattling brain and my heart that was filled with more fault lines than Cali. The point is to find a way to take care of yourself. If you can’t take care of yourself. You can’t take care of you autistic child.
(Side Note: However, even those should be taken with a half-grain of salt. Whenever taking advice from somebody you should always consider the source. For those who take advice from me should consider the fact that I still don’t have a full grasp on how to actually tie a shoelace. I was never able to master the bunny ear approach to lacing shoes. My shoelaces look like a multi-victim homicide crime scene. I really shouldn’t be allowed to give advice…on anything.)
After 12 years of living with autism these two pieces of advice is all I can offer. I’m no expert. I’ve turned down speaking in front of people because who in the heck am I to stand in from of other parents to tell them what they should or shouldn’t do. The single thing I can tell folks is what our story was. I’m not an advice giver…I’m a storyteller. That’s it.
Writing about Autism is not something I’m all that comfortable doing these days because it makes me sound like a blowhard. I’m trying to balance the line between offering my opinions on the subject and just sharing the experiences we’ve had living inside the spectrum. In the next few months I’m going to attempt to try do a little more blogging about it – not as an expert – but rather, as a walking talking asshole who just has a story to tell.
That means, for what it’s worth, there will be more Autism blogs coming in the future. Yay…..(slow golf clap sound filed here)
I’m not an expert.
I’m a storyteller.
Please do me a favor. As you go to bed tonight say a quick prayer for those who suffer from depression. Then say one for the souls of those who have taken their own life. Instead of all of us arguing about it, we should spend that energy praying for those people afflicted.