How can you live 67 years and yet not really know yourself? Not really know what makes you different? That’s the story behind baby boomer Garret Mathews, the retired columnist for the Evansville, Indiana, Courier & Press. Now he shares it with us, and has started a blog to share it even more widely.
Am I selfish to a fault? Check.
Am I happily capable of spending long hours inside an isolation booth? Check.
Am I lacking the wherewithal to understand even a little of what my wife is feeling? Check.
Why am I telling you?
I am 67 years old and recently had surgery to remove my cancerous prostate. While I can run five miles in less than 50 minutes and crank out 70 push-ups in the time it takes to play “Hey, Jude,” the truth is undeniable. I am not going to live forever, even if I can work up to 175 push-ups before “In a Gadda Da Vida” fades out.
So I live in the now. The let’s-get-it-done-before-I-croak now.
I came to the party late, but based on what I’ve read and what I know about myself, few of us will be remembered for being witty at parties. Even fewer will require funeral homes to hire extra parking attendants for our wakes.
I’m lucky. I have an out. I can write well enough to win awards (and thousands of dollars) in contests sponsored by a national column-writing organization and by Scripps-Howard, a previous owner of the Evansville newspaper where I spent so many words and so much of my life.
I’ve done numerous books, several plays, and there’s a movie script with my name on it that’s making the rounds.
So if I don’t use my words to reach out to others with Asperger’s (and their loved ones), I’m the worst slacker on the planet.
While I reserve the right to occasionally wander off base, the main purpose of my blog is to share what’s in the head of one particular Aspie. I welcome reader feedback. A note for parents: it will be G-rated. Tens of thousands of kids have Asperger’s, and I want them to have complete access to the material.
Indeed, no good reason exists for me not to take on this project.
I’m retired. There’s plenty of time.
I’m motivated. When I finally found out why I’ve always been different, it was like unbuttoning a cement overcoat. Now I understand why I think this, why I avoid that. If I can contribute — even peripherally — to just one other person having a similar “Aha” moment, this effort will be worthwhile.
My motor stays in high gear. In decades of writing features and columns, I penned more than 6,500 pieces on every subject from Appalachian snake handlers to a 91-year-old woman who refused to stop bootlegging beer and whiskey. I spent months putting together collections of my columns, the columns of others, stories I penned in Appalachia in the ’70s and ’80s, and interviews I conducted with civil rights volunteers who went South in the ’60s to desegregate institutions and register black voters.
This is enough for now. I hope you’ll check it out. And learn something you didn’t know. Maybe something that will help.