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Lessons from an Autistic Woman

May 17, 2010

I always feel strange for a few weeks after spending time at the Idaho house.  The hustle of Santa Cruz, the mass of traffic, sheer numbers of human beings all getting to where we need to go, hits my senses like the pings on the windshield when driving through a bug rich area at dusk.  I find myself blinking and squinting as I navigate through the crowds.  Last night, Tim & I watched the movie Temple Grandin.  It is about this amazing autistic woman who has given so much to our society, not just despite her condition, but because of it.  Her particular view of the world allows her to see ways to improve the cattle industry that “normal” people can’t conceive of.  I have thought of the movie pretty much non-stop since watching it.  It makes me think about how many children are now diagnosed with autism and if our human condition has evolved to a point that nature is telling us that we need to have a different look at things. 

I find it fascinating, that although I have a literary mind and feel  at home in the world of emotions, love and touch, I relate d so strongly to aspects of Temple Grandin’s way of seeing the world despite its stark unemotional shadings.  Her notion of living in harmony with animals even though we eat them, not simply feeding and sheltering them, but acknowledging their ways of thinking, seems so important that it should be part of the school curriculum.  As I prepare for my first horse camping trip of the season, I know my experience will be changed in some way from watching that movie.  When I saw Utah today, I wanted to get to know him differently and I look forward to spending 4 days in the backcountry with him as my primary companion.  Instead of the main focus being on the training I have done to shape Utah, I want to shift my focus to discover the way he shapes my perspective. 

Temple Grandin wrote a book called Animals Make us Human.  What does it mean to be human?  I’ll have to think on that one more, but one of the things Temple said in the movie hit home with me.  “Nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be.”  Well said, Temple.  We have a sacred duty and opportunity to make humanity a thing of beauty.  So when I am in this state of wanting to run back to quiet, unpeopled Idaho, I will instead step into the crowds of Santa Cruz with a new idea of operating in a more harmonious way.  I will attempt to open my mind to how we prod each other like inept animal handlers.  I will accept and embrace that I am part of this sea of humanity.  I will do as Temple does and open a door in my mind to a new reality.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ali Duran permalink
    May 17, 2010 5:43 am

    Wow Julie. I just read your blog and am in awe of your words. So meaningful and so beautifully written. I am most definitely going to watch that movie and am even more so excited to read your book. I always knew you were a beautiful person and now I realize what a beautiful author you are!!

  2. Eva permalink
    May 17, 2010 6:28 am

    You are so inspiring!! I want to see this movie, and of course read the book! I think you really hit home… we forget that we are not just surviving in this world, but creating, exploring, inventing, forging forth with new ideas and knowledge. Why add more hatred to our world when there is so much beauty and love to be shared? Sounds cliche, but one smile can really make a difference. People remember those smiles, and pass them along. You can find a lesson in the most suprising ways, if you just open your mind and heart to see it.

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