Don't go to war over a disagreement

Don't go to war over a disagreement

A view over the upper west side of Manhattan at sunset.

hello computer

The other day someone said Preston Bus station is awful. Instantly I was enraged. It’s a brutalist icon I said. “Just because it’s listed doesn’t mean it’s good.” The voice in my head ran 18 different ways to reply, most using sarcasm. I chose to say nothing for the benefit of the group. No need to burn the room to the ground with some well placed sarcastic burns just because someone said something I disagree with. (Aw) Hey look I’m growing.

I woke up the next day and continued the argument in my head because that’s how I roll. Disagreements stick in my mind for days and weeks not minutes. I can’t casually dismiss something and move on. I must dissect every angle of it. That’s what I’m doing now really. 3 days later.

A view up Manhattan of apartment blocks at sunset.

In the heat of the moment I find it difficult to read between the lines. If you say something I’ll probably take it literally. The other day my wife asked “Any news on the floor?” and I searched the floor for news. Only for a few seconds mind but I still did that. It’s just how my autistic brain works. So for someone to state that something I like is not good I take that at face value. I forget that they have had an entire life of experience different to mine that has led them to a perfectly valid opinion. I forget that it’s an opinion.

Days later, with the two sentence discussion still rattling around in my brain, I realised what they were saying was more than “Doesn’t mean it’s good.” It was really “But I don’t enjoy it.” That is totally cool. Not for you? Fine. Not everything is and it’s important to find what is for you.

A dark and moody photo of the island of Manhattan. Just a few buildings are lit by sunshine.

I really wish that in these moments I could react in a better way, not only to respect someone’s voice, but to remove the argument from my head for my own mental health reasons. I can’t afford to have a random argument in my head for a week. I’ve got other things to do. (Though it does give me something to write about.)

In the future I hope I can be calmer. Is this mindfulness? Aware that something has occurred and letting it have its space over there rather than letting it take over my entire consciousness.

I feel like I’ve found a way out for my own personal reasons as much as respecting their views. If someone says something there’s usually a lot behind that. An opinion isn’t personal fact. It is information and feelings all packaged up. The logical thing to do is acknowledge and move on if need be. Oh sure they’re probably misguided fools but acknowledge and move on.

I wrote this on the morning of President Biden’s inauguration which I watched later that day. There was a lot in his speech that resonated with me. One section in particular stuck out given the morning I had had.

Let us listen to one another.

Hear one another. See one another.

Show respect to one another.

Politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path.

Every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.

A black and white photo of the Statue of Liberty against a dark sky.

This may be absurdly normal for most people. I’ve always fought for my views but I’ve also taken that fight too far on some occasions. Why has it taken me until now to attempt to figure this out? I only became aware that I was autistic 2.5 years ago. Armed with that knowledge I am able to unwrap and dissect problems in my life. Imagine shouting at a pen that doesn’t work when you turn it on and spending days being frustrated with it only to find out it had no ink in it. Knowledge helps us resolve problems. Knowing who I am I can look back on previous times when I’ve got into a heated debate and see how being autistic perhaps contributed to confusion and frustration. Fingers crossed I can avoid it in the future or at least forgive myself when it does.

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A black and white photo of the Statue of Liberty brightly lit against a dark cityscape.

This weeks photos are some from our 2016 trip to New York shortly before Trump came to power. It’s good to look at them and feel hopeful for America once again. Yay!


The aurora over Iceland.

I have a selection of Icelandic photographic prints for sale with my friends at Dorothy.

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beam out

Poet Amanda Gorman, America’s first Youth Poet Laureate, performed at the 46th President’s Inauguration. She is incredible. I thought it would be nice to highlight her other work.

Weekly email features Captains Log, fascinating links and more photos