Open Doors, How Charity Operates, and Social Media Outrage

Note: I wrote this before drinking coffee. If some of the sentences don’t make sense, I apologize. I mean every word I said though.

So the meme is finally challenged after Hurricane Harvey. Years ago, someone created a familiar meme referencing Lakewood, one of the biggest churches in the United States, headed by a rich pastor named Joel Osteen. Due to it’s huge size, the meme creator challenges Christians to build communities that fight social injustice and help the poor, down-and-out, and the needy. With churches these large in North America, they can house at least two to five thousand people. So, where is this referenced Lakewood church located you ask? That’s right! It’s in Houston Texas! The epicentre of the hurricane that is not only flooding Texas, but social media commentary as well.

I personally had to endure Mr Osteen’s preaching while taking Master’s Commission years ago. I looked at this three-piece suit pastor with a huge Bible held high in his hand and believed that one day I would become a successful speaker like he was.

Then after flashing that shiny “Benedict Cumberbatch-ish” signature smile, he started speaking.

He talked about faith the size of a mustard seed and how with that small amount of faith, I can overcome obstacles in my daily life while making a difference in the world for Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, what Osteen failed to mention in that sermon was that Jesus was using sarcasm with his disciples because they wanted to smite non-believers with superpowers from heaven (I had to figure that one out myself by researching Jewish culture and the depth of Jesus’ character using a huge multitude of mixed sources). Perhaps one has to pay to hear that part of the message. Or maybe Osteen says something like that in his book “Your Best Life Now” (I doubt it though).

Before I digress too much, I don’t want to be judgy of the way Lakewood handled turning its church into a homeless shelter, but I already did judge him. It’s difficult not to judge a televangelist when all I’ve experienced since leaving Masters was years of pain, suffering, deeper spiritual discovery, and growing up in faith and experience. Those experiences and a deeper intimacy with God have brought a new mindset where I have to take life on day by day without denying that the struggle is real. Mr. Osteen’s messages aren’t very deep or challenging at all, they paint life with spiritual sunshine lollipops and rainbows, and give Christians the sense they’re easily entitled to blessing, healing, prosperity, and emotional well-being. Compared to a lot of the other lessons God has taught me since 2012, these mindsets are actually much more destructive than helpful. And it attracts a lot of people who go to his church. Most individuals attending for the first time aren’t satisfied with what they have, and after going through their own pain while trying to live up to Osteen’s teaching will not be satisfied with what they want if they do get it. One of the biggest things God has taught me was that having “my best life now” is secondary to being loyal, obedient, and faithful to Jesus Christ and responsive to the Holy Spirit while struggling hard with Aspergers and autism. Yup, I digressed too much.

I originally wanted to talk about how charitable organizations work. Note that I’m speaking from experience as a call-centre worker taking credit card donations for The Salvation Army Canada over the phone.  I was constantly bombarded with calls rebuking The Salvation Army for not accepting any other donations except money. It’s important to understand that when a  disaster hits, travel and shipment of goods or supplies for survival become unpredictable.  Trucks and cars will hit trees or pieces of buildings that block various critical roadways to certain destinations resulting in slower traffic and shipments. Flying supplies in bulk have to go through various screening and vetting to prevent terrorism on top of keeping goods safe for flood or hurricane victims. Every charitable donation accepts money first because money is easily transferable via digital bank accounts, Paypal, or money orders. When that money is transferred in a matter of seconds, intact places close to a disaster with abundant supply of what people need can accept the money quickly and as a result, ship the paid supplies to the injured and starving parties of a disaster in a matter of hours. When donors of food, clothes, or even medicine hear that from me while I’m on the phone with them taking their credit card info, they get extremely upset, hang up, and sometimes are even more harsh than all the social media posts tweeted out by Tump-supporters and “Liberal babies.” This is why Lakewood updated their webpage first with a form to donate towards relief for Hurricane Harvey first before officially announcing doors were open.

Another issue is crowd control. If Lakewood opened up their doors, a huge crowd of people barging into the church like it was Black Friday would result in injury. As a result, a meeting had to be held to decide how to properly handle the large crowds of people that are coming in who are starving, injured, or possibly dying. Volunteers had to be delegated tasks. To make sure everyone’s doing their job, management strategies had to be employed. I wish the process would be sped up, but organization has to be firm and well in place to ensure no lives are lost. I’m sure Jesus and his disciples had a system in place when giving out five loaves and two fishes, but unfortunately, even Jesus himself couldn’t help everyone physically while He was on Earth even with all the miracles He performed. Neither could Lakewood even with its doors wide open. Not everyone makes it. I don’t agree with how God runs the show like this either, but that’s life.

However, I can understand the rage behind social media when it comes to the way Lakewood runs. My issue with Lakewood’s handling of the issue is with communication. They mentioned their acceptance of various non-monetary donations on Twitter before officially tweeting less than 24 hours ago they were receiving people who need shelter along with coordinating with the city of Houston. If I was running from a natural disaster, the first thing I’d be thinking about is hiding safely under a roof that will keep me from getting hit from debris (or in other cases hail) flying in the wind.  Food would be second. Clothing would be the last thing on my mind when trying to find a place of security from weather.

In social media, timing is everything. Posting at the right time helps to avoid controversy. The rage from social media was rising even quicker than the floodwaters. As confirmed by a Fox News broadcast, Lakewood didn’t see it coming, but as a Christian, one of the first things that popped up in my mind as Harvey unleashed hell was what Joel Osteen was doing for his congregation and if his church doors were open. I even tweeted my discontent at the lack of news sources (tweets now deleted). Lakewood should have been aware of the backlash they would have faced since they may have gotten a lot of criticism for “Your Best Life Now” and some of Mr Osteen’s sermons for Christians that left some of his congregation starving for a deeper relationship with God and not just something to feel good.

I’m not saying all this in criticism of Lakewood Church. Many companies with the ability to support others just aren’t that quick on the draw when it comes to their connection with people, both online and offline. This is the case with organizations like Catholic Relief Services, The Humane Society of the United States, and The Red Cross. When it comes to spreading news of humanitarian causes, this needs to change. The bar is much higher than a lot of companies think. Social media isn’t a playground and it shouldn’t be the troll-infested battlefield it is today.

There are sheep and there are shepherds. Being prepared to face the farm animals who communicate hate, controversy, accountability, and a need for honour requires armor, preparation, strategy, a really long stick, and tactful response. I’m not just talking about Hurricane Harvey or the exhausting threads of outrage culture. I’m talking about life itself. If Joel Osteen’s Sunday sermons can teach us how to fight in a hard struggle with God by our side and how to properly respond to life’s obstacles instead of how easy it is to obtain blessings that we want right now, many more Christians will be able to take on the Hurricane Harveys in their own lives. Maybe this natural disaster and social media backlash will help Mr Osteen write about how content we should be with what we have so we’re satisfied with what we want. I pray this happens, but I’m not confident that it will.

I Struggle with Aspergers Am I #Blessed or What?

A lot of times we use the word blessed lightly. Whenever an event happens to us that makes us happy, or we work hard and reward ourselves with something rare money can buy, our tendency is to post or tweet it out and drop the hashtag #blessed

Examples:

  • I just bought a car. #Blessed (I wish this was true)
  • Great date night with my BF! #Blessed
  • My new shirt from E-Bay just arrived in the mail on time. #Blessed
    Too #blessed to be stressed! (I’ve even used this one during busy work periods)

I struggle with Aspergers. I have many reasons not to use the hashtag #blessed. It is a daily struggle to support myself let alone me and my wife. Our grocery lists each week aren’t very long because of monetary lack. I have a hard time focusing on tasks which requires intense focus so I’m freelancing and out of work a lot lately. I have things that set me off on angry swearing tirades when I’m alone. I go for six months to a year of song-writer’s block. I need two days to recover after a social gathering. My wife is always tired when I sometimes need her to support me the most. Some of my immediate family struggles with their own mental health and I’m always nervous around them. Both our noisy neighbors constantly change because they rent the houses beside us and as a result our sleeping patterns are screwed up. We get the idea.

I’m not against the idea of using the #blessed hashtag. I just think our culture needs to use the word “blessed” in a different context. If we look at the world around us, there are more people that aren’t blessed compared to the ones who have the most comments or likes on their social media feeds after posting a picture of themselves with rum-punch on a Jamaican beach. Everyone suffers. Everyone has problems. What if we used the hashtag #blessed to show the existence of a spiritual strength? What if we used the word blessed to inspire others not to give up or give in? What if being blessed shows us that problems in the world can be overcome regardless of how big or small those problems are? What if blessing in struggle can show countries torn by war that there’s good in this world worth fighting for? If someone replies with the comment that they have hope despite what’s going on, that deserves the hashtag #blessed and a butt-load of retweets or Instagram reposts.

The word blessed reminds me of the beatitudes of Christ in Matthew 5 when he says:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Don’t get me wrong. If you’re literally expressing happiness while your reputation, wealth, and health are in bad shape or hanging by a thread, I will refer you to a psychiatrist. I’ll definitely ensure one close to me gets help if their suffering is a result of their own stupidity as well. If I had a choice, I would choose to  have the negative autistic quirks I endure destroyed by God. I would take that “blessing” over walking through life with meltdowns and sensory overload until I take my last breath on Earth. We’ve all heard these questions from somewhere; what do we do with our problems we struggle with? How can we learn from what happens to us when the world doesn’t work in our favour? How do we accept what is broken and live with what can’t be fixed?

Since I struggle with Aspergers, I’m for sure no exception to the participation of this obstacle course called suffering just because I’m a Christian. I need a reminder every time I have a meltdown that I’m blessed. I need a reminder I’m blessed even though I listen to someone who claims I’m indifferent for not looking at them in the eye. I need to know I’m blessed when a certain smell makes me want to puke. Someone needed to tell me in an old call centre job that I’m blessed even when I want to strangle the supervisor that makes me switch duties while I’m doing a repetitive task that makes me feel so content. I need to know that it’s a blessing to take a mental break or day off when stressed hard workers claim that excuses are for losers. My suffering might be different, but I need to know that the promises from suffering in the beatitudes (most which have come from Aspergers) will be fulfilled once I met the Lord face-to-face.

Thankfully, I’ve learned that even in the hardest and darkest times where the struggle with Aspergers is so real, I’m blessed because it doesn’t last forever, thanks to God’s intervention and people who love me enough to help me through hell on Earth. I believe blessing itself is the result of a fulfilled promise from Jesus Christ. Through His son, God has made many promises for His people. Regardless of suffering or things going according to our own plans, we are blessed if we believe, learn from, and abide in relationship with the true vine that is Christ himself (beginning of John 15). There are many examples of #blessed promises where we can use the hashtag in context and humility.

  • I am free from condemnation (Romans 8) #blessed
  • I can approach God with boldness and confidence (Ephesians 3:12) #blessed
  • Regardless of my past, I can be forgiven and redeemed of all my mistakes allowing me to start over (Colossians 1:13 – 14) #blessed

Perhaps having Aspergers is a reminder of my need to depend on God to feel significant, accepted, and secure. Maybe having this neurological difference is a reminder that God made me a gifted artist and that the pictures I paint, whether it’s through this blog or my music, have to show the world who He is to fulfill His promises. And if He doesn’t allow me to excel or His promises aren’t working in my favour, I’m still alive and His grace is sufficient for me. To me, just to live and have an opportunity to show autism as a gift is a blessing itself.

My name is Aaron Parsons. I struggle with Aspergers. Am I #blessed or what?

Music: An Ideal Match with a Neuro-diverse Brain

Musical therapy is a generally misunderstood treatment method for an individual struggling with autism, yet it shouldn’t be dismissed while talking about alternatives. Strugglers with autism, who receive musical therapy, have the potential to change in personality and learning aptitude. Music associates with the non-verbal piece of our brains, making it an ideal match with a neuro-diverse brain. Look into this method of therapy if you’re searching for some assistance with autism and haven’t had luck with other methods of assistance.

Musical therapy is successful because it can be combined with learning social abilities. Music is an extremely non-debilitating medium for strugglers with autism, and many fun music lessons or exercises can be played to help enhance social and behavioural abilities. By encouraging eye contact while singing or playing the guitar, musical therapy can encourage those struggling with autism to excel in social skills.

The main way that musical therapy can help children for example, and more established autistic strugglers, is by assisting with the advancement of conversation-based aptitudes. Music is an approach to combine the verbal and non-verbal functions of the mind. Individuals struggling with autism or Aspergers may have different types of issues with socializing. Some non-verbal strugglers with autism can mumble, snort, or make other non-word sounds, while others belt out illogical expressions or cries. Still others pick up the ability to assemble expressions and sentences to speak, in spite of the fact that these ordinarily need feeling or clear vocal tones. This is true as I’m known for sometimes having a monotone voice like other verbal autism strugglers. Regardless of how talented an individual is with social skills, he or she can take an interest in musical therapy by applauding rhythms, mumbling along, or doing basic resounding of riffs or melody lines.

One thing many who know me have noticed is that autistic people are usually observed to excel at music (my usual humility just disappeared for a moment). A few, for example, have perfect pitch when singing. Others can play a specific instrument exceptionally well without need for guidance. Regardless of the possibility that he or she demonstrates no virtuoso musical skills by typical benchmarks, you may find that a person who severely struggles with autism has capacities in music that surpass his or her other abilities. A musical advisor can utilize music as an approach to implement this sort of learning with other education, not just as discourse improvement and social behavioural advancement as outlined before. Music can be used in addition to education as an approach to imparting feelings and create memory.

By utilizing these methods in conjunction with each other, musical therapy can work wonders with individuals who are autistic. Prepared experts can make use of music to show children struggling with autism and other audio nerds how to communicate in nonverbal ways, making it simpler for those struggling with autism or Aspergers to learn. Research the musical therapy choice to give yourself or your children with another decision while working with the strengths and quirks found in autism.

Socials and Meltdowns: Autism and Socializing

A sort-of meltdown at a social I attended a few months ago confirmed that my struggles on the autism/Aspergers spectrum really suck on a physical level (also, welcome to the early 30s Mr. Parsons). By the way, a social in Manitoba Canada is a provincial slang term for a huge kickin’ party to fund-raise for a wedding! Whenever I feel nauseated, the feeling becomes overwhelming and I go into an internal panic attack where I feel dizzy, loose focus, and have an urgent need to walk around or lie down.
My wife and I made the mistake of visiting McDonald’s after helping set up for the social. Right after dinner, I was burping a lot even after taking two Tums and this lump in my throat just wouldn’t go away. I couldn’t talk. I tried drinking multiple glasses of water. I still couldn’t say a word. I couldn’t cry out for help or call 911. The feeling of nausea amplified dramatically from the smell of the venue bathroom after voiding my bladder so I can take in tickets for the draw without being excused. For some of you reading who were at the social that night, I think it did have something to do with individuals I didn’t like who have attended even though I admit that it wasn’t. But really, I’m not exactly sure. All I remember was that I had to excuse myself to go to the bathroom after said persons dropped in and I was having noisy fits of diarrhea. After the diarrhea finished, I had to lay down somewhere, there was no bed outside so I ran to the back of the venue where there was a field (this was in the country), and lied down on my back out there trying to relax and pace my breathing while praying to God for help when I could start talking again. I then texted my wife and she drove me home. She was asking me a whole bunch of questions and I told her to leave me alone as nicely as I could. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I’m just nervous being around party atmospheres this people who would potentially make me uncomfortable when they’re drunk. I once was used to that. I guess the party life just isn’t for me anymore.

Ever since I fully decided to accept my 2002 diagnosis of AS in 2015, I’m finding I’m having to sacrifice a lot of things I used to love in my twenties. I’ve sacrificed my love for a hyper-party lifestyle, hip-hop concerts, and unhealthy foods, cut down on coffee, video game marathons, and a constant need to socialize just to feel like I fit in and have a purpose. In a way it was worth it to take the mask off instead of acting like I was all that. It did come with a price though. I’m just about done my term with data entry. With students going to school, it will be much harder to find work outside of online freelancing. Thankfully, the events of the past week help to reconstruct my Christian faith from the ground up without mixing it up with the Americanized “name-it-claim-it” crap-tacular prosperity gospel.

Unless, I’m doing a musical performance or shopping, I’ve been trying to stay away from huge crowds as much as possible. It may just be a fear of man that just seems to be growing the more I browse all the angry crap on social media or see all the news. And yet I’m in Canada, a relatively safe country. Maybe I still have parts of my past I need to work through. Some people think I’m shy, but in reality, I don’t really have anything to say in times I really want to talk. It’s like my wit is a loading bar, and it constantly gets stuck or moves slower than other people’s wits. Or maybe I just feel like I’m a boring person unless I have my DJ equipment with me. The thing is, I love people and I do want to socialize, but once I’m done socializing or enduring a huge crowd of people, my internal battery is at 10% and it takes at least two days to recharge (going to work only makes re-charging longer. It can take up to 4 days). If I socialize too much outside of family, or become overwhelmed from huge crowds on a daily basis, I start to become paranoid, and may even call in sick the next time I have to go to work. Eventually, at one point I had to yell at my entire group of friends at one point to get away from me. They thought I hated them. It even took some time and a few Facebook posts to explain that I needed to some time alone because I was constantly socializing with so many people for a few days at once. And now that these effects started amplifying in my early 30s, I just hope this blog post will be a good resource for others like me who get drained from socializing to know that they’re not alone.

After these kinds of meltdowns occur, Bible reading and meditation always calm me down after a few hours and then I can assimilate myself back into life again. I’m at peace with who I am as a struggling Christian and as a man who continues to kick the bad quirks of autism in the ass daily. I may not be social for long periods of time, eat certain foods or handle certain smells or noises anymore. I will weep from time to time. I will need more sleep. I’m also considering taking the money I made and starting a business. With said business, I’m going to help people as much as I can with a mental health website featuring products from Amazon. With a separate blog, I’m willing to connect and give my two cents with those who struggle with autism, religion, mental abuse, and even some spiritual abuse that is tied to mental abuse. After October, I may not do as many live performances as a musician, but I will use my music to connect with others and share my story.

This is who I am.

Five Favorite Classic Protest Songs

While this isn’t a post about autism, I just wanted to post my own Canadian response to the events of last weekend in Charlottesville, VA. This is very simple and should be black and white. White supremacists, KKK supporters, and Nazis, regardless of where they’re from have no place in any society on this planet. Both sides did not kill a woman and injure anybody. It was one man on one side, a side that promotes death, and has no concept of how important human life is. We must all speak out against the hate when we see it or we are just as guilty in our support by allowing it to happen and spread. “That is not acceptable” must be a phrase we can say without hesitation until we live in a world where it doesn’t need to be said anymore. While the USA’s “orange president” decides to condemn violence on many sides, I really think any kind of protest or rally with potential to become aggressive is a problem. Political party affiliation or representation does not give anybody permission to act however they want without consequence. Call me a pacifist, however, I’m perfectly okay with readers who disagree with me on this.

My point is that one of the most civilized ways to respond to chaos, anarchy, facism, white supremacy, or any kind of subject that is offensive is to sing/rap about it. So this post is dedicated to some of my favorite protest songs that have made me think about the world from the artists’ point of view. Just note that I don’t necessarily agree with everything they say.

  • The Clash – The Call Up

    I’m not big into Beatle’s sounding rock, but the political lyrics are just catchy. Perhaps I’m drawn to it due to how experimental the sound was at the time. Some say it’s a very left-leaning song due to its careful and subtle social commentary, but I can agree that it has the right amount of activism in their music without it being over the top or with an agenda to shove it down its listeners’ throats.
  • Dead Prez – Propaganda (WARNING: EXPLICIT LANGUAGE)

    So much is packed in this song. Everything is referenced from political coverups to the spreading of “fake news” which has always been around so it doesn’t phase me all that much as long as I make sure I stick to local news or the Globe and Mail from T-Dot, my second home.
  • Mahalia Jackson – We Shall Overcome

    This song was a staple of the civil rights movement, Mahalia worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King. She also sang Precious Lord at his funeral in 1968. It is such a moving song that will go down in history. Regardless of your beliefs, this song will strengthen you to overcome.
  • The Honey Drippers – Impeach the President

    Oh, boy, I’m going to get a lot of hate mail and commentary on this one. Let me be clear though, regardless of opinions, I love funk music. The opening drum-break on this critique toward Richard Nixon has been sampled almost as many times as James Brown’s Funky Drummer. While the lyrics are fairly basic, they’re very relevant today. It’s hard to believe which news outlet has exact coverage of what’s going on in the White House these days. But the Honey Drippers do make a point. Trump’s guilt and actions always need to be in check. The US government needs to be accountable to the people and they have to know exactly what’s going on regardless of one’s political opinion. If one wants to get political but still get funky, this is the go to song!

    I will add more songs to this post as I’ve got to get to my night job, but writing this post was lots of fun in a time where politics can be really nasty.

Premium WordPress Plugin Deal-breaker, Hilarious Seller

Just thought I would share the funniest thing ever. I showed interest in a premium WordPress plugin. I sent a message to the developer asking about it before I buy it. He responded with information that was a deal-breaker for me. I didn’t respond. During the night 7 hours after my response, this developer messaged me every 30 minutes to confirm my interest and basically guilt trip me with small Twitter sized messages containing all the benefits of the plugin that didn’t interest me. After deleting all the messages and email notifications of those messages, I finally responded saying I’m not interested and that his conduct was extremely unprofessional. After blocking this guy, I decided for fun to check his Twitter feed. It was a mountain of tweets sent every 5 minutes about how crappy online business is, how corrupt the 9 – 5 lifestyle is, why it is stupid to search for a job only to end up with a minimum wage position, how he gets barely any sales but still “kills it” with Adsense, and Photoshop edits with his face overtop of rich entrepreneurs who were very successful travellers.

I’ve gone through a similar phase as a developer but never hard selled every half hour or tried to size myself up trying to look like a guru. This is why entitlement is a poor attitude to have.

Getting Stuck: Rituals, Routine, Obsessions, and Aspergers

Rituals, routine, and obsessions are a featured characteristic of those who struggle with Aspergers. This is unfortunately one of my weaknesses known as getting stuck. It is also an occasional strength when writing or talking about something I’m passionate about. In order to cope with anxiety and stress that comes from the crazy nutty world we live in, people like me can get stuck on passionate or trending subjects and repeat certain behaviours for comfort (I play with my hair, and when telling my wife it’s a stim, she says “What?!”). While some people who struggle on the spectrum may spend their routine intensely studying one passion, others may be somewhat neurotic about keeping their house or apartment tidy, lining up items in a particular order (I do this at work all the time), or even trying to control their environment so their routine isn’t disrupted or their fear of chaos and anarchy doesn’t occur. Does this remind you of anyone?

Some psychological testing states that the memory of a kid struggling with Aspergers may not be better than neurotypical individuals. Yet the behemoth of facts and maxims he/she memorized probably shows how much time and effort went into gaining knowledge on one or two subjects they’re passionate about compared to lack of knowledge of everything else.

Usually subjects that involve connection or that have inherent networks, such as maps, weather patterns, or airline schedules are particular matters that lead to an Asperger type of obsession. Although it is commonly thought that obsessions can be a strength which can be exploited in an educational environment, these obsessions can hamper how they cope with daily life. Individuals on the spectrum are more interested in how things work or how systems of code such as those in software are developed versus psychology (or how people work).

Here are some things I get stuck on and how I either use a metaphorical loop counter, or switch my focus all together.

  • Modular Synthesis

    Creating music with different synths is actually a lot of fun. When coming up with different sounds based on how things like waveform patterns are connected with effects such as delay, reverb and compression, I could write a book about this in this post, but check on the DAW Sunvox to understand what I’m talking about.
  • TV and Movies

    I love fandom, different television shows, and movies. Sometimes my wife gets annoyed when I constantly talk and talk about how all the MCU movies are connected. Luckily this is short lived when we both talk about music or movies we’re both into. Some of our Flash and Harry Potter discussions can get very deep in the rabbit hole, and she understands it’s a process to give closure to conversations I’m passionate about.
  • Injustice in the News (especially with autism)

    We all want to see a better world. When something really grinds my gears, my brain constantly sees the problem in my mind like a broken record that’s been scratched. Sometimes the only way to undo this is to ride it out and show me something else that is more important. And because of how emotionally intense some fake news sites are when I used to fall for them before 2015, I would be raving and ranting about them for at least a week. There was one point where I was confronted about constantly being stuck on a Trump issue. I can understand how it’s sensitive, but it’s a problem for me too especially knowing his crazy views on vaccines and autism.
  • BreakupsWe all know how painful break-ups can be. Looking back on when I was single, I found that whenever I’ve been rejected by a girl or gone through a breakup, it would take at least 6 months to literally get through the first four stages of grief. I would spend hours locked away in my room listening to the radio with tears in my eyes or constantly yelling at a TV screen while playing a video game. At one point in my teens, it actually took me a year and a half to get through the whole process of grieving one relationship failure. Luckily at that time, there was no Facebook or I would have posted about the pain every hour I was online.
  • Artistic IdeasWhen I have an idea, I just have to work on getting that particular artistic project finish. One of the reasons I love composing chiptune music is because I can easily focus on the composition as opposed to the simple sounds which take seconds to program. Usually it takes just under two hours to create a song. With longer projects where I do need breaks, I can’t seem to get another task done until the song is completely composed. My struggle with Aspergers probably is an indication as to why my music could be better than it actually is. However, if you do enjoy my music, gladly continue to support me.
  • Theological Disagreements (thankfully not so much now)I used to be a very closed-minded Christian until late 2015. I would constantly try to argue my point and somehow end up repeating the same exact statement I hold fast to over and over again rather than listen to the other side of a debate. In one conversation I had with a woman regarding arguing my point when it comes to abortion, I kept on saying verbatim. “I don’t care what the hell you’re saying. This is black and white. Abortion is murder.” I was stuck in my ways and I needed to learn that part of a healthy debate involves understanding where the other person I’m arguing with is coming from. Eventually she indicated that she’s uncomfortable judging a woman because of her choices but she understands where I’m coming from. It was actually a valid point. I can be against abortion and still accept a woman regardless of her past.

As a bonus, here are some of the repetitive things I’ve always enjoyed and even studied about constantly not just to figure out how they work, but just to take in and relax myself.

  • Hip-hop beats/electronic music/trance music/deep house
  • Records (yes, the spinning fascinates me)
  • Where Bible verses constantly elude to the same them or almost say exactly the same thing verbatim
  • Market Research Surveys
  • App Development
  • Platform Games
  • Experience Growth Patterns in JRPGs

Making Peace: Autism and Acceptance

I attended a geek/fandom-based bible study last year. It’s a small group full of Christians who are into geeky things. It’s pretty cool actually. We were talking about Pokemon, Jonah Chapter 4, and making peace that evening. I’m not a Pokemon fan but I have tried one of the early RPGs on a Gameboy and can see why it would be so much fun to get into. I thought of something when it came to making peace and acceptance of autism that evening but it came to me while walking home from the bible study rather than earlier in community.

While I brag hard about accepting autism as a part of my identity, the hardest thing for someone like me to make peace with is accepting the daily struggle. I deal with quirks that are incurable and there are times when I’d rather live as if Aspergers doesn’t exist. Last year, I have made peace with the fact that God doesn’t have to answer to me, although he answers my prayers HE feels should be answered. I made peace with the fact that God will somehow use Aspergers through me for His glory, even though part of me for a fact knows that this seems rationally ridiculous.

Religion tries to make Aspergers an obstacle or a “demon” to be dealt with. Certain sects of Christianity claim that autism and Aspergers is just a lie and something I can easily get over. These are wrong on so many scientific, psychological, and even spiritual outlooks. Real spirituality accepts what can’t be humanly changed, but relies on the wisdom of a deity to work with the gifts and the weaknesses Aspergers brings to the forefront (but not be a fruitcake like hyper-pentecostals and what not).

Some days Aspergers is a curse. In times when I socialize, I feel stressed and overwhelmed. Sometimes when I work, I want to break down and cry like a baby. Many other days Aspergers is a gift. In times when I create these blog posts, in times when I write and perform or spin music, in times when I pray and meditate, I feel like I shine, even when no one is watching.

I’m not sure how I can end this post. I’ve been praying the serenity prayer lately because sometimes I’m not even sure what to pray to ensure God’s will happens for some of my situations and not my own. So I’ll end with this; if you struggle with autism or Aspergers and am not sure what to pray, here’s the serenity prayer that you can use:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen. – – Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

A Realistic Look at Entitlement and Suffering

I grew up in a culture of entitlement and not much suffering. My parents and teachers raised me under the impression that I was special and that God would give me the dream and legacy I dreamed about as a teenager.

After almost achieving that dream in high school but failing, I became attracted to pastors who fed on the entitlement of the rich and high class: AKA the prosperity gospel. I was attracted to pastors who would easily “usher in miracles and give his flock instant hearings or financial gain.” I was attracted to others who would name and claim their healing or better finances. I was attracted to leaders who had influence but manipulate people into a hyper-Pentecostal cults. These false prophets also feed on the entitlement mentality of victims looking for a miracle. And of course with having Aspergers,I really need a miracle to see my dreams come to past. Or do I?

I’m still working towards my freedom. But taking time to reflect on my past has made me realize that it’s better to depend on God through suffering than treat God like a genie or Santa Claus. I do wish my suffering was less, but I’m at the point of taking it one day at a time. I think that is much more of an inspiration than prosperity messages. People are sold to a gospel that is attractive and I wanted to be a celebrity with a gospel I can sell while seeing others change. The fact I never got there after a decade of trying shows I have something else I need to do. Maybe my story will just be a chronicle of finding myself. I guess the parts that will change others forever is that I’ll never give up my fight to find purpose in life.

Influences, Niches, and Inspiration

Last year I took some time to reflect while enjoying the wild that is the Spirit Sands south of Carberry, Manitoba.

I’ve realized something last year. Influence in community is really the only thing I’m deeply searching for, even though I prefer solitude as an artist. I just keep looking for it in the wrong places. I’ve always valued being heard and listened to, but in the end, it doesn’t get me anywhere. The truth is that I’m not a good leader as much as I want to be. I’m an inspiration. I’m a person who makes others think. I don’t change a person’s life. I show them doors to walk through. Pushing people to open those doors never ends well. Only an audience member can decide to succumb to the things I say or the example I lead.

After figuring this out, I’m not opposed to living a life in service to others without a dream. I’m not opposed to representing a small circle of people or small town who share a common goal. I think just doing my part on my own turf is all the influence I need to achieve the significance and community I’ve been looking for.

My wife and I were discussing how difficult life in Winnipeg can be just due to the pace and demanding mentality of the world around us. She wants to move back to a simpler life in the country just working simple well paying jobs and encouraging a small niche community. I don’t blame her. While I doubt this exists, I feel a desire to look for a life that can compliment my struggle with Aspergers. I’m at the point where there’s too much “noise” and “speed” in my life and I’m just scraping by. I need to live life that’s more quiet and as “properly paced” as possible. I’m not saying I should isolate or drop everything, but some of what I live for means nothing now and I have to let go of it over the past year. I think I can manage life better once I live for others almost completely. Perhaps moving into the country may not necessarily be the solution, but it will be a place where we can focus as a family and enjoy God’s beauty. After being refreshed, we would go about our work in our small groups where we fit, and just let things organically grow from there.