Sunday, January 25, 2009

Like a Castaway

I suppose as a way to try to wean me off of The Green Mile my wife suggested tonight that I watch a different Tom Hanks film, Castaway (believe it or not, I'd never seen it). Of course, when I'm in these deep philosophical moods, I probably read more into the stories than I would otherwise. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, in a sense, but also found it a bit disturbing.

I should mentioned that I missed the first 30 minutes or so -- I was doing something else and really didn't plan to watch it. I finally decided to build a fire in the fireplace (the room where the TV is) and it was about this time that Tom's character, Chuck Noland, washed up on the deserted island.

I often have a great deal of difficulty trying to explain to people what it's like living with Asperger's Syndrome (AS). I can provide folks with a detailed clinical definition, but this doesn't really do justice to the topic. However, I now have a better way to describe it! I can refer to this particular movie.

In many ways, having AS is like being a castaway on your own deserted island. You know there's a world of people out there, but, in your mind, you're all alone with no one to talk to. You have to figure out how to survive day after day and you do it in much the same way as Chuck Noland -- trial and error (with a heavy emphasis on the error part).

Trying to navigate the social environment is very similar to when Chuck is rescued and is returned to his former life. You feel out of place, like a person with a broken compass, and you're never sure which way to go.

More importantly, you intuitively understand the dilemma Chuck finds himself in. When isolated, he/you long for human interaction, but when he/you gets it, he/you often wants nothing more than isolation.

In my personal case, I sometimes wish I could be a more social animal, a person who felt comfortable in crowds, gatherings or general social settings. But every time I find myself in those very situations, I want to run away as fast and as far as I can. I'm simply incapable of processing all the social indicators swirling around me in a way that makes me feel safe and comfortable.

So I retreat to my imaginary island and talk to my own volleyball, this blog. Maybe I should rename it The Rambling Wilsons. :-)


  1. The Rambling Wilsons would be a good name for a band....

  2. lol, forest wisdom, that's just what I thought!

    I know exactly what you mean about crowds, though. I think for me it's not because I'm not sensitive to social cues, I'm overly sensitive to them. I know when people are putting out the "correct" social cues, but I also sense what they are really thinking and feeling as well, and when they don't match up, I end up spending more time trying to figure out what's actually going on in people's heads than I do following the proper social protocols and what they are saying.

    I really know that feeling of being in a crowd and wanting to be alone, and of being alone and wanting people around. But I rarely ever want that crowd around -- usually just the one or two people that I identify out of that crowd as someone I would really like to get to know better.

  3. hello.... i am sorry i havent written back to you since you posted on my blog, but im slow and it took me awhile to notice....i have some of the same sentiments with the whole crowd thing... i tend to get overwhelmed by all the people and their thoughts, kind of sensory overload. i am much better with a small group where the noise is less and the communication is better


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