Zoom Autism Magazine Issue 7 - Page 26

I t was May 2003. I was 21. Twenty-one was too young to be lying down in my bed every night wondering if I was going to wake up the next day. Anorexia had taken hostage over my health during my junior year of college. By the end of the academic year, I decided to take a medical leave of absence from college to focus on recovery. My body and mind were frail and compromised, but I still thought it would be therapeutic to bring my Yamaha 88-key Motif Synthesizer and my Nikon 35mm SLR camera with me back home while I was participating in treatment. Music and photography were in my blood. These were the things I dreamed of pursuing in my undergraduate college studies. dead. What was it going to take to resurrect my passion? Was it not enough to have the piano and camera there in my possession and to have the skill sets to use them? Apparently, that’s not how it works. Passion, as it turns out, is not formed out of a single substance. Passion is a science. The Science One way to interpret the science of passion is by exploring the theory of fire. There are four components that are required to ignite a fire: fuel, heat, oxygen (or another oxidizing agent), and a chain reaction. “Sparking a flame” to our passion also requires our own “fuel,” “heat,” and “oxygen” to create the fire. Then, in order to sustain and continue the fire that keeps our passion alive, a “chain reaction” must be present. “ To me, success is learning how to rise strong and survive in But, surprisingly, during my entire course of treatment, I never touched my keyboard or picked up my camera. My soul was just too empty to care. I was convinced that the passion I once had within me was permanently my surrounding conditions.” “ It took a tremendous amount of introspection, but after doing so, I was able to gain a clearer understanding of what passion actually requires and was able to figure out what made up those components to “spark” my passion, which I am happy to share with you. Love is the essential non-physical ingredient . for human The survival Fuel Wikimedia Commons When we believeThe and feelrepresents like the subjects, topics, and “fuel” instruments that are the material representawe are loved, we will beofmotivated tions expressing your passion. In some cases, to keep our passions alive ” may not discover them and in other cases,.you you may have always known your fuel sources, until later. Discovering my “fuel” was the easiest part, and it involves going back to the early years of my childhood. The image above is a diagram of the fire tetrahedron. The components labeled in the diagram are OXYGEN, HEAT, FUEL, and CHAIN REACTION. I was born in Tokyo, Japan, where I spent the first 11 years of my life. At age two, during a vis- “ Passion is a 26 ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses human trait A photo of me sitting in front of our family harpsichord (circa 1984) it to the United States, my parents brought me to the University of California at Los Angeles where I received an official diagnosis of autism. I began to develop speech around age four and was enrolled in a few years of speech therapy in an effort to “catch up” with the spoken and written language used by my surrounding society. At the age of 6, I began classical training on the piano. Not long afterward, I began to write and compose my own material. Before I was able to communicate with spoken or written words, I communicated through music. As an adult, I am able to communicate using speech and writing in most situations. However, I still do not consider words as my native language. I have always struggled to fit in. I tend to be shy, insecure, and still unsure of how to make or keep friends and relationships. However, when switched on “performance mode,” the shyness and insecurity I once had disappears. My soul transforms into a creature of raw emotion and authenticity. It was the black-and-white photography courses I had taken as a junior high school student that initially drew me to the camera. The idea of capturing images, developing the negatives, and printing in the dark room was a medium that I fell instantly in love with. Through music and art, I am able to communicate my emotions far more accurately than I ever could through spoken or written language. As childhood shifted to adolescence and adulthood, sexuality and relationships (romantic and nonromantic) became my “alternative fuel” sources of passion. Those interests, along with my music and photography, were the only components required to spark my passion, or so I thought. As I would come to learn later in my life, I could not have been more wrong. The Oxygen The oxidizing agent of your passion is what ZOOM Autism through Many Lenses 27