As the boys lie sleeping, I’m in my Saturday morning reverie like yeast gently urging the dough upward. Today it’s fueled by a hour or so of bread baking and watching the weather as I dream of hiking trails tomorrow. Yet the chats I had last night with some neighbors at a ladies night of wine and memories carry me across the house to my sons’ slumbering.
A dear neighbor with kids of similar ages to mine talked about her sharing my problem of waking at night and not being able to get back to sleep. I mentioned that when it happens I whip out my iPhone and surf web sites that interest me. She asked me if when that happens I could go to my Happy Place – that dream locale where life is soothing and you are lulled into bliss by the simple thought of it.
That Happy Place – what a great word for it. I’m blessed to have many – my kitchen mixing new creations, my husband’s arms, a mountain top, the feeling of helping clients discover their corporate voice, and this blog. I’ll put up with sleep deprivation and way too rushed a daily agenda for just 10 minutes of what I truly love – because it recharges me. It’s my fuel for the journey, and without it, I plod instead of leap.
W. and J. have a happy place too – and that’s a blessing. So many autistic individuals, especially the most affected, seem locked in a very UNhappy place of self-injurious or aggressive behavior, or coping strategies that reflect profound confusion at a largely overloaded sensory environment. I think I know my sons’ happy place – certainly the look of delight from W. when we drive up to a Chipotle is precious, and J. while swimming beams me smiles that reflect I think the fact his poorly wired sensory system is finally soothed and not overloaded.
Yet look a the operative words “I think” above – as in I think I know what makes W. and J. genuinely happy, or I interpret their behavior to mean happiness. Where is their true happy place – do I really know it, or is it an experience that’s yet to come? How can I help them find it, and also share it with me? – so I can make more time for it, and thus enlarge their happiness and my own.
Sleep-time for the men is about to be rudely ended by the jolt of their mother telling them it’s time to take a shower and get ready for speech therapy. But later today I hope to try some approaches on how to get W. and J. to tell me what makes them happy. Abstract concepts like this are always hard, yet really maybe they’re simple, and looking me in the eye as clearly as their bright beaming smiles.