Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where is Balance?

I have rocks in my sink. Literally. I lifted the idea from my hairdresser who has them in her salon's restroom. They create a spa moment for me and a sensory experience. The sound of water couououssshhhing over rocks takes me momentarily to the beach at high tide. On several of the stones are written abstract concepts--life themes of which I like to be reminded: Balance, Inspire, Journey.

Instead of INSPIRE-ing anyone or stimulating conversation as I had also hoped, they seem to bring on waves of ridicule and controversy. They confound my cleaning lady. She can't decide whether to wash each one or wash under them or wash around them. They are the ultimate knick-knacks I suppose--absolute clutter serving no function. Mind you she doesn't converse (even in Spanish) with me about them, but instead huffs and puffs as she moves them brashly out of her way.

The rocks (really they are pebbles) discombobulate my mother in-law. She clearly could not, would not, will not wash her hands in the out-of-doors environment that rocks in a sink simulate. Because the washroom is right off our kitchen, I heard her without trying, as she too moved them out of her way each time she washed her hands before meals. She could not fathom that the soapy water would simply filter through the rocks and on down the drain. Questions like, "don't they block the drain?" and "how can that be?" or "why did you put...?" kept us head-tilting like confused puppy dogs.

The stones intrigued our 20-
something nephews on a recent visit. Being younger, more idealistic and open minded, they actually added to the collection when we returned from the beach. And complimented my aesthetic! I take this as a good sign of what's to come with the next generation.

I digress. The BALANCE rock makes me think of many things. I need to find balance between my over-sympathetic, over- invested,  homeschooling 24/7, over-consumed role as mother and the role (which some feel I should try) of bon-bon eating, beach walking, puttering woman of leisure with no deadlines (or thoughts) other than arriving promptly to the carpool line and bus stop. Or does balance find itself?

We need to find balance when hearing reports about our children. Hearing that they have erred in school or with their peers can be devastating in the moment.  Yet, put in perspective (that's a synonym for balance), it is part of growing up and just serves to create a teachable moment. Maybe it's an opportunity to practice self-control dealing with difficult people.  Gee, let me tell you about guarding your tongue.  Hmmm, here's a good example of why modesty matters.

As a society, we need to find balance in our portrayal of autism in the media. People are critical of Autism Every Day as it portrays only the down-side, scary, gut wrenching, traumatic, unbearable reality of autism. Others criticize Autism Yesterday which oversimplifies the cause and "cure" by blaming immunizations for every incidence of autism. Both offer some truth. Neither is absolutely true. Fundraising dinners are a good place for the worst-case-scenario depictions. Family movie nights are a good place for the tolerance tales. New parent orientations are a good place for the hopeful testimonials.

Two cliches come to mind: All press is good press and Consumer Beware. If nothing else, the airtime that autism is getting in the media stimulates the nay sayers to create the "rest of the story;" the flip side then creates balance.  And dear fellow parent, don't believe everything you read, hear or see.  We need to be wary of anything that promises or strongly infers to "fix" our kids. A better pursuit is to arrive at the point of seeing that they are not broken. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it insults your child on the way, skip it!  

My husband has written about the extremist view as a rallying point for the green environmentalist movement in his blog, oceanswavesandbeaches.com. (He is my inspiration and tutor for all things technological and futurist.) Like our interest in autism, his passion for the environment has become trendy all of a sudden.  For those of us living with autism as a reality not a trend that can breed resentment sometimes.  We are like the Irishman who won't wear green because he knows he's Irish all yearlong not just on St. Patty's Day!  We know autism yesterday, everyday and tomorrow too.  Self-respect and pride are not about a green shirt and hair.

Any new passion or bandwagon requires jumping to the extreme before a leveling off occurs. The groundswell and critical mass of media about autism is good even though it's not all accurate. It is on people's radar. There is enormous fodder for discussion. It has not reached an equilibrium. Balance will find itself. That's my soapbox on the BALANCE rock...stay tuned for INSPIRE and PEACE.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven... a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them       Ecclesiastes 3:1-3  

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?     Isaiah 40:11-13

photo credits: copleysociety.org; gilpin.wordpress.com; abcnews.com

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