I’m the Lightning Before the Thunder

The power of greatness lies within

As I started writing this, I noticed that I’ve used music lately as inspiration for some of my columns and I think that’s something not necessarily bad. I don’t play any instruments, and can’t sing to save my life, but I love music and it gets me through my autistic days.

Someone once told me that the overwhelming majority of my music is eight beat. I have no clue what that means, but if I like the music, I guess that’s a good thing. I’ll have to do some research on the autistic brain and eight-beat counts.

As I often do, I digress.

Today’s inspiration comes via Las Vegas and Imagine Dragons, who, on a rainy Friday filled with Thunderstorms, got me thinking about the song Thunder. Also having ADHD, I, of course, switched music mid-song and put that one on and intentionally listened to the lyrics.

Here’s what I noticed.

Kids were laughing in my classes

It wasn’t easy growing up autistic in a time before anyone even used that word for school-age kids. I was ten years out of high school before doctors discovered that anyone other than infants could be autistic.

I was the odd kid. Teacher’s called me weird, stupid and lazy. Classmates were a bit more colorful with their language.

I’m not saying that I had a bad life; it just was a bit rough. Out of those experiences I grew up with, a feeling of self-doubt permeated a large portion of my life.

I eventually figured out through a lot of trial and many, many errors that I have talents and that there are things I can do well and that can serve the needs of others.

I was dreaming of bigger things And wanna leave my own life behind Not a yes sir, not a follower Fit the box, fit the mold Have a seat in the foyer, take a number I was lightning before the thunder

I always knew deep inside that there was greatness in me; I just wasn’t sure where it was. It took a long time to figure myself out and to get to know who I really was, but it eventually happened.

As I grew older, like in my forties older, I started figuring things out in my life, but it took a lot of errors before it happened.

I’ve never been much of a follower when it came to doing things in my life. I like to examine things, break them down and figure out why they work or don’t work. That’s why I think I was a pretty successful soccer and hockey coach over the years.

I wasn’t afraid to lead and teach. I definitely did NOT fit into anyone’s box, and most of us on the spectrum don’t. It scares some people and amazes others. For me, it was scary for a long time.

I was forty-six when I finally was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. That was the day when I stopped being weird and started being autistic and when that happened, it was like the proverbial light bulb that shines above your head. Suddenly I knew why I am the way I am.

I’m an out of the box thinker, who is way too logical for some people, who says what he means and is not one just to take a number, sit and wait with everyone else. I want to be out there enjoying life, even if I often stay at home because people with Asperger’s often have social issues.

Though I played recreational adult ice hockey for too many years (according to the orthopedic surgeon who performed triple rotator cuff surgery last year) and enjoyed being the thunder on the ice, I learned I didn’t need to be the thunder in the rest of my life.

In my work as an autism advocate, I don’t care about attention. I just want to help those on the spectrum live better lives and to educate those not on the spectrum.

Now I can be the lightning before the thunder. I can get in, do my thing quickly and get out before the thunder strikes. The thunder makes noise, but the lightning is what does the damage, or in the case of this post, shows myself that I’m capable of doing great things.

We all are.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to keep looking for the talent and greatness inside you? Will you be the thunder that makes noise but really doesn’t accomplish anything? Or are you happy where you’re at, be it good or bad?

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