Lessons About Unconditional Acceptance From An Autistic Adult
Hands raised above his head, a slight forward movement and he screamed his excited scream.
It was quiet in the restaurant and people turned to see where the sudden sound came from.
A couple with their little 5-6 year old daughter were on their way out.
She asked her mother, ‘What was that noise Mommy?’
Then she turned to look at Mohit, ‘Why did he do it Mommy?’
Mommy mumbled something as they walked away.
I cringed and shrunk into my chair.
“Please stop it Mo. Why do you make those sounds. Don’t you care what people say and think about you? It’s embarrassing.” I said.
He responded with his classic deep look that pierced my body and soul.
And he continued with the occasional scream.
My mind wandered into the ‘why’ of behavior.
Was he feeling cold? Or was it something he ate? Or was he just happy and excited?
The word ‘acceptance’ popped up in my consciousness.
Did I really accept Mohit?
He is who he is- including the sounds, the movements, which embarrass me at times
How many years has it been? How many more will it take to be honestly non affected?
This thought lingered in the background all day.
That evening we ended up in the restaurant again.
No surprises- the couple with the little girl was there too.
My mind said, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’
My heart whispered, ‘Be prepared for another lesson on acceptance.’
This time I visibly relaxed.
Mohit was fully attentive to the food on the table. He checked out the variety and reached out for the chicken tikka.
I jokingly commented since I had restarted eating non vegetarian food, Mohit had begun to enjoy it too!
He glanced up and pushed the chicken tikka away.
Anil and I burst out laughing.
Mohit’s too much his own person to do something because somebody else does it.
In that moment he sent out a clear message. I do what I want. I’m not influenced by your likes or dislikes. I’m clear about what I want.
The message was nailed with another deep look piercing my soul.
I published an article on Medium a couple of days ago.
I sent out the link to friends asking then what they thought of it.
And I checked the comments section, frequently through the day.
I pictured Mohit working on an art piece.
He completed a painting with his masterful strokes doing exactly what he wanted with it.
When it was done, he said, ‘finished’ and he moved on to the next one.
He didn’t look at the completed painting. He kept going with the next one.
He’s complete within. He doesn’t seek validation. He doesn’t care if the world appreciates him, his work.
He is who he is.
Life has a beautiful way of reinforcing messages.
To commemorate this fateful day, he resolved to paint a picture fit for the shogun, or anyone else, to see. He worked rapidly and without interruption until it was finished. Then he quietly put the brush in a jar of water and left, without a single backward glance at his work.
This is from the classic ‘Musashi’ by Eiji Yoshikawa.
What is the probability of having a thought and reading the exact same thing that same night in a classic written a hundred years before?
Does art imitate life? Or does life imitate art?
Mohit is here to teach me about acceptance.
Not just acceptance of others but acceptance of myself.
Tears stream down as I write this. I’ve said this many times. I say it again.
I live with a Master. He’s kind and patient.
When will I learn my lessons?
Bountiful is your life, full and complete. Or so you think, until someone comes along and makes your realize what you have been missing all the time. Like a mirror that reflects what is absent rather than present, he shows you the void in your soul- the void you have missed seeing. That person can be a lover, a friend or a spiritual master. Sometimes it can be a child to look after.
– Elif Shafak (The Forty Rules of Love)
The words come alive as I read them.
Mohit reflects what’s missing in my life.
He shows me where I am and where I need to be- by example and not by words.
In forcing me to accept him for exactly who he is- he breaks down my barriers and inhibitions one by one.
He forces me to be complete in myself.
He forces me to stand in my own glory and majesty- just as he stands in his.
He forces me to be me- totally me.