I Don't Care

I don’t care.

Should I or shouldn’t I?

How did I get here?

On Sunday, I was taking a morning walk through our local mall with my son. The lights were down low, the music was calm, and the air conditioning was cranked up.  It was two hours before the stores open so things were not yet bustling. Seniors and moms with strollers were getting their steps in.

My son Kyle, because of his autism, stands out as being different.  He does not always use a quiet tone. Unable to produce words, he makes sounds to express himself. Feeling excitement and joy, sometimes he whoops. Loudly. And the faster he walks, the more he naturally vocalizes.  He also has an awkward gait that is more pronounced when he speeds up his pace.

So people look. But not the same way they look at each other.  Or they purposely look in another direction. Or they look through us. A few may smile back when I smile at them. And some give me a knowing look that I interpret as “It’s ok” or “Isn’t it great that you two are out exercising this morning?”

I used to care. I sometimes looked away.  I was embarrassed.  Self conscious. Uncomfortable. Awkward. Sad. I tried very hard to get Kyle to quiet down. That works except for when it doesn’t.

I wanted not to care what anyone thought or whether they looked or didn’t look. Connected or didn’t connect. But  I did. More than I realized or would want to admit. Not caring felt just out of my reach.

Was there a technique or roadmap? A mantra I could use to expose the signpost on the path called “I don’t care”? I’ve not had much success with mantras. Until they ring true for me, they feel like empty words.

The best I could do was to shine a light in search of the path.  I imagined it to be a nice peaceful, comfortable, empowered place to walk. I hoped that someday I might get there. Maybe care a little less.

Without a clear answer, I added this to my metaphorical someday maybe list, tucked it in my back pocket and most of the time, didn’t think much about it. Kyle and I continued our summertime mall walks.

Sunday we were racing around the mall and Kyle was releasing an occasional whoop of joy. I noticed something big.  I NO LONGER CARED.

Wow. When did I find this path? How did I get here? I had no idea. I sensed I’d been here for awhile without noticing it.  I felt a difference.  I was intuitively more present to Kyle, feeling a freedom and lightness that comes with not caring.

And with fresh eyes, I saw more than ever that people are doing the best they can. And that manifests in various forms in different people. And the more I reach out with my eyes, my smile, my hello, the more people can see that it’s okay. And sometimes they soften. And sometimes I feel our connection. As humans.

In my role as his guide,  I still work with Kyle on keeping his voice down. I want to help him be the best he can be.  But it comes from a less needy and desperate place within me.

I can see, once again, the power of shining my light.

Sometimes the light finds a path and sometimes it goes into search mode until a path becomes clear. The process is one of showing up and walking, one step in front of the other. Allowing time and insight to work its magic. And when it does, I may see and even embody something fresh and new. Something I had not seen or felt before.

In this case, what I see at a deeper level is that it’s okay to be who we are. Whoops and all.

And it’s okay for the world to be who they are. Stares and all.

Looks and feels obvious to me now. Duh.  But I didn’t see it until I saw it.

So it’s not just a duh. It’s a wow. A new level of consciousness from which to view the world.

So much freedom to be found here.

gayle nobel