The Idea of People

"Lust and Envy" by Maranda Russell

The Idea of People
Written By: Maranda Russell

I love the idea of people,
but I must admit
the reality
often fails to meet
my high expectations.

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Fan Q&A: Favorite Musicians, Autism and Romance, Suicidal Thoughts

Hello! Today I’m sharing my most recent fan Q&A video from my YouTube vlog. In it I discuss my favorite musicians besides Michael Jackson and Nirvana, whether I believe having high-functioning autism makes it harder to have a romantic relationship, and exactly what kind of suicidal thoughts I have had in the past and why I hope people get help if they themselves are struggling with thoughts like that. If any of you have a question for me you would like answered in a future video, please ask in the comments section of this post or the video itself!

Goodbye Letter to a Narcissist

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Dear Narcissist,

What do you have to teach me? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Once I thought you did – you seemed so sophisticated and knowledgeable, but those were simply projections of the person you wished you could be. Inside you resides only a quivering emptiness. Every attempt to reach outside of yourself slowly sinks into the abyss, becoming forever lost within the caverns of what could have once been.

Now it is obvious it was never meant to be, and the time has come to move on. If only I could throw this endless, undying desire to be loved back in your face as you vacantly stare through me, always searching for your own reflection. I wish just once you could see only me. But even now, as I walk away, the only reflection mirrored in your eyes is yourself.

I Fell in Love Today

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I fell in love with a glimpse of you today…and you never even knew.

But there you were, sitting cross-legged, Indian-style on a gravel walkway winding through a field of scattered tombstones. You wore a grease-splattered McDonald’s uniform and were happily occupying your own world. Your head was down, but bobbing slightly to the rhythm of whatever music was streaming through your earphones.

Was it simply a short break or was the work day done? What was it like to leave the circus that is the home of Ronald McDonald, only to take shelter in the land of the dead a few hundred feet away? The image of you, of all that you represent washed over me and still remains in my mind’s eye – a jumbled collage of America, commercialism, youth, morbidity, and the ever-present hope of eternity.

Are You a Nowhere Man? All About Biases

The Beatles "Nowhere Man"

The Beatles “Nowhere Man”

I’ve said before that I think some of the best poetry snippets can be found in song lyrics. Not every musician or group writes great or even above-average lyrics, but when they do, I like to dissect the songs and really think about them. One song I have always felt a strong kinship with is “Nowhere Man” by The Beatles. I’m not sure many people really stop to think about the song as far as philosophy goes, but I find it full of a kind of zen-like wisdom.

I think perhaps my favorite lines from the song are:

“He’s as blind as he can be
Just sees what he wants to see”

Do you know anyone like that? I know I sure do. I know people who are seemingly intelligent and caring, but are hopelessly blind to certain truths because they either don’t want to see them or because their minds are biased to a point where they can not see anything that doesn’t align with their personal beliefs. Even scientific studies have found this to be true…that our personal beliefs can affect our ability to see things clearly or even figure out simple problems.

When I used to be a foster parent, we had a class we had to take every so often that talked about how deeply bias affects us and the decisions we make, even when we are small children. A child who is biased to believe the world is cruel and unfair (from past neglect or abuse) will make their personal reality fit that view, even if their belief is not the current truth. They will see everything that they experience from that biased point of view and nothing will change their mind unless that bias changes.

I find that fascinating from a psychological point of view and have thought often of what that means when applied to human nature in general. Sometimes it rather discourages me because I understand that many people will choose to be blind or can’t help being blind to seemingly obvious truths no matter how much evidence they are given or how easily their beliefs could be disproven using logic and scientific reason. This makes me want to scream and shout in frustration sometimes. It also makes me worry about what biases I have in place that I don’t even notice. I guess the song was right when it asked, “Isn’t he a bit like you and me?”

My New Year’s Intentions for 2015

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Happy soon-to-be New Year everyone! Around this time of year, I always like to pause and assess my life. I decide what is going good, what I need to leave behind and what I might want to work on. I don’t like to make “New Year’s resolutions” because that phrasing to me seems to have guilt built into it. When people make New Year’s resolutions, they tend to feel guilty if they fail or make a mistake and eventually just give up. I like the phrase “New Year’s intentions” better because it doesn’t have that stigma to it and to me, intentions are about trying to do the right thing. Sure, we all mess up and even epically fail sometimes, but as long as we keep getting up and trying, I don’t think we truly ever lose.

So here are my three New Year’s intentions for 2015 –

1. Focus on health. I have many health problems that I can’t do anything about, however, I do have control over some of my health and unfortunately, I often ignore the importance of taking care of myself. So for 2015 I plan to try to exercise at least 3-4 times a week (even if I can only do light exercise like walking and yoga). I will not push myself too hard or make myself do things that cause real pain, but I can try to work within my physical limitations. I will also try to eat better. I won’t force myself to give up things I love (like chocolate), but I will try to consciously pick out more fruits, vegetables, lean protein and healthy grains at the grocery store (because if I buy healthier foods, I will eat healthier foods).

2. Be more social. A few years ago I had to be more social. But now that I work at home, have taken a break from fostering kids and my husband resigned from being a youth pastor, I don’t have to be social. I can hole up at home and be a hermit. To some extent I have done that. We still go to church, but now that my husband isn’t working for a church we get to pick and choose what to be involved in instead of having it decided for us – which is great, except that I have to remember to actively look for things to do and ways to serve. It is far too easy to ignore social activities because I feel that I am not socially proficient. Sometimes I get kind of depressed seeing how easy it is for others to connect with people and make friends. I just don’t have that kind of personality.

Having Asperger’s Syndrome can make socializing uncomfortable and awkward, but I still want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to care about others and have them care in return. The only way I can do that is to make myself reach out more. So this year I hope to reach out more to others, whether it be by saying a simple “hello” and learning someone’s name or by making myself go out a little more often, even when it is easier to stay home and veg out on the couch.

3. Stop letting people hurt me. In the past few years there have been a few people who hurt me deeply. They may not even realize they hurt me (in fact some of them think I deserve to be treated badly and have said so). In most cases, they were people who never really got to know me and then misinterpreted things I said or did. Instead of approaching me and clarifying what upset them, they either shut me out entirely or told other people a lot of bad stuff about me which isn’t actually true. By the time I knew there was really an issue, damage had already been done. I tried to work things out with some of them and find out what I did to upset them, but I was either ignored or told everything was my fault.

Maybe my lack of social skills in some areas caused the problems…or maybe they never really liked me to begin with. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ve allowed these people to make me feel bad about myself and wonder if I am unlikable. It really dealt a blow to my self-esteem in some ways. At this point, I want to build my ability to trust others again. I want to not let a little meanness or misunderstanding hold me back anymore. I have already chosen to consciously forgive, now I want to let myself learn from any mistakes that were made and move on.

So there you have it, my list of intentions for the coming year. What would you like to change or work on this year?

All the world’s a stage and we are merely players

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Today I’ve been thinking about relationships and reminiscing about not only current relationships, but all the ones I can remember in my 32 years. As I considered the bonds between myself and a myriad of other sentient beings, I began to see my life as some kind of play or movie. Of course, I thought of myself as the central character (since I can only live in my mind) but I also decided which other people would be main characters right now (my husband, mom and cats were the first to come to mind). After that, I looked at supporting characters, which right now would be extended family, church friends, people I talk to frequently on Facebook and colleagues of the art/writing/autism community. Lastly, I thought of the minor characters or even “extras” – those people who aren’t a regular part of my life and may not even know my name but can still affect my mood and spirit by how they choose to treat me in the moments we share.

As I was busy drawing these influential connections in my mind, I found the list growing and growing. People who were once a big part of my life but now aren’t or those people who I have never met in person but either inspired or horrified me by the things they did or said. I thought of how certain musicians, authors and historical figures have had a huge impact on my thoughts, beliefs and values. As I kept thinking, I almost felt like the idea was getting too big for my head to hold. The sheer number of lives that have touched mine is amazing. I know I have impacted many of them as well – both for good and bad (but hopefully more good than bad). I even thought about how many people I may have greatly influenced without even realizing it. Since there are many people who may never know how much they meant to my life journey, I’m sure that I have probably been the same to others without knowing it.

So here I would like to take a moment to say thank you to EVERYONE who has had a part in my life. You have helped make me who I am and as imperfect as I still am, I like the person I’m growing into. I miss many of you who I don’t see or speak to regularly anymore. Never think I quit loving or caring about you. Some of you have filled me with hope in moments of despair and I thank you, even though you may never know what you meant to me and I may not even consciously remember who said and did what. Some of you I hope to grow to know better, because I feel that there is something in my soul that recognizes something in yours. Some I have walked away from intentionally, but that doesn’t mean our relationship wasn’t important to me, just that for one reason or another I needed to grow elsewhere for a while. In the end, I like to think that even over distance and time, our memories and souls keep us connected.