I’ve always tried to be a doer. This might have resulted from my attempts to help my mother with my nonverbal older brother, diagnosed with autism and profound retardation, I don’t know.
Since the focus of my blog is to address my problems and attitudes from the perspective of a sibling of an autistic brother, I always consider his influence to be a factor. I don’t blame or credit my brother for forming my entire personality any more than I subscribe to Dr. Freud’s contention that my mother is responsible for all that I am. Perhaps other siblings might see some of themselves in my posts.
Listening and playing
I took violin lessons from an early age. Dad and Mom loved classical music, orchestral and operatic. My father was famous for conducting the Metropolitan Opera in the living room after Milton Cross finished the introductory remarks before each act, on the weekly Texaco Opera broadcast. The music contained so much emotion; I could understand how my father had to be a part of it in some physical way.
I found my niche with Irish folk music. There was nothing better than playing with other musicians at festivals or in a pub. The sounds that I made with my violin blended in seamlessly with the other instruments: mandolins, guitars, tin whistles, wooden flutes and bohdráns. The blended vibrations and pulsations surrounded me; they were intoxicating. There is no other feeling like being a co-creator of such music.
I couldn’t understand how non-players could merely listen to the music without participating. I haven’t played the fiddle in a long while and am just now getting to the point where I can listen to this wonderful music without feeling the loss. However, now and then, I have to pull out my mandolin and play along.
Science seeing and doing
I’ve always been a slow reader. In my early reading days, I remember being a bit overwhelmed by the busyness of comic books. The artwork distracted me from the dialog printed in those balloons coming out of the characters’ mouths. I seemed to have trouble getting to know the characters in a novel as well, having to leaf back through the pages to reacquaint myself with ‘Ernest’ or some other character that I lost track of later in the book. I read a lot of non-fiction, as a science and engineering major in college. It was difficult for me to speed through text laced with equations or tightly reasoned scientific concepts.
My reward for plodding through the difficulties is my ability to eventually understand scientific concepts of nearly any given subject. This has served me well in my career, which consisted of the implementation of technology. That was my active involvement with science – the creative ‘doing’ I refer to in the title of this post, as opposed to the ‘seeing’, or consuming of knowledge about science.
Reading and writing
My reading has gotten much better, especially since I have been reading more fiction. I am surprised at how fast I finish some novels. I’ve always wanted to ‘devour’ books, as many avid readers describe their appetite for reading.
As much as I enjoy reading, I feel uneasy. I feel I should be creating rather than consuming: writing rather than reading. I take solace in Stephen King’s advice: a writer should read and write.