11222017Headline:

Have You Discovered Your “Life’s Work?”

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by Jenny Hansen

After last week’s post on autism, I thought I’d explore this topic a bit further in the form of my little brother, Dallas.

Dallas is twenty-five years old, going on eight. Although he’s a high-functioning autistic individual, Dallas will be forever a child. And even though we’re not certain he’ll ever be able to hold down a job, Dallas is a blast for his family to hang around with because he is a man of serious interests.

Truly most autistic people are. There’s nearly always a topic that lights them on fire. If you’ve ever interacted with someone who’s autistic, you’ve seen them find a way to steer every conversation back to their topic. It’s impressive to watch.

If your autistic pal is lucky enough to have a good “elevator” topic like weather or sports, it’s usually a very positive thing for them. People REALLY enjoy talking to them. If they’re more into a niche topic like space research or friendly insects…not so much.

Dallas’ topic has typically been various animated characters and he’s most fascinated by villains.

As a writer, this fascinates me because villains are renowned for their clear-cut sense of purpose. Hero motivations are often murky, and they get sidetracked by gauzy goals like love. But villains? They keep their eye on the prize.

Dallas is currently in a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers phase with an emphasis on the Ten Terrors. We had a conversation a few months back that went something like this:

“Sister Jennifer, this is your brother Dallas.”

“Hi Dallas, how are you?”

“I am fine. I am calling you today to let you know that I have discovered my life’s work.”

“Really??”

“Yes.”

“What is it?”

“Do you know who the Ten Terrors are?”

“No.”

“The TenTerrors are villains in the Power Rangers Mystic Force. My life’s work is to discover everything about the Ten Terrors.”

“Huh. That’s pretty cool.”

“Can you look them up for me? And spell their names?”

 

So I followed his (very precise) directions until I found the Ten Terrors. He wanted me to spell each Terrors’ name letter by letter. It took us about forty-five minutes to get all ten spelled perfectly on his paper and all his questions answered.

I immediately called our sister, Cory, with some questions of my own:

“What is the deal with Dallas calling me about his life’s work?”

“Oh, he called you with that? How sweet. Usually he calls me or mom.”

“How serious is this ‘life’s work’ thing? I want to be supportive.”

“Well, about every 3-4 weeks he discovers a new life’s work. You’ll learn a lot being on the list for this. I warn you though, he get’s unlimited phone time.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means that he can talk on the phone as much as he wants but he only gets one hour of computer time a day and he has to earn it.”

“Seriously?”

“Oh, he’s VERY serious about it. He calls us to have us look stuff up for him so when he gets his hour, he’s ready to go. He doesn’t have to waste any of it browsing around. He can go right to the site for what he wants and print it all. Then he takes it to his room and organizes it.”

“What a smart little guy! But what do you mean, he ‘organizes’ it?”

“Well, he keeps two milk crates in his room with folders. He prints stuff up, reads it, and writes new episodes for some of the shows. Periodically mom or someone else will go through his folders with him and clean them out, but some of his stuff is like ten years old and he keeps it pretty organized. Those are ‘his files.’”

“Holy cow! When he said, he needed the information for his files, I wanted to laugh. He was really serious though, so I restrained myself.”

“He is serious. His life work consumes his every waking moment.”

“I LOVE that!!”

And I do. What would it be like to have that kind of focus about our goals and interests?

I’ve thought about my conversation with Dallas quite a bit. Although there are many, many things that I can do that Dallas can’t, I’m kind of envious that he has the time and perseverance to pour all his energy into his life’s work, whatever it may be that week.

He’s an inspiration to me and his latest lesson for me is this:

It doesn’t matter how big or important your life’s work is, as long as it is big and important to YOU.

Here’s wishing you a week filled with your favorite big, important stuff…

~ Jenny

 

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 15 years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter at JennyHansenCA or at Writers In The Storm. Jenny also writes the Risky Baby Business posts at More Cowbell, a series that focuses on babies, new parents and high-risk pregnancy.

© 2013 Jenny Hansen. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.


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