I don’t know about others, but the journey through life can be terribly instructive. I just wish I would have learned some lessons earlier in life for they would have come in very handy.

I always knew I was different. Since I can’t inhabit anyone else’s body and peek into their brains, perhaps we all think we’re different.

All I know is that I spent a lot of my early years (through my 40s) trying to assimilate to a world I never really fit in. I gave it the ol’ college try, trying to discover the secrets of existing in this society that everyone seemed to have picked up with ease. I failed miserably on most counts.

I used to blame this all on growing up on the tail end of the Baby Boom. I was the last one out of the shoot and there weren’t a lot of kids on my street who were my age, let alone my gender. So, for most of my growing years, I was my own friend and my imagination was my constant companion.

It’s only recently that I have started to become aware how different I am. I’m not going to claim any magical powers. Hell, I can’t even claim being on any spectrum. I failed to make autism four points and missed Mensa by four as well.

Growing up left-handed is a challenge enough in a right-handed world. But in first grade, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and moved into a different class. I didn’t know I was “special,” I just knew that I was next in line to be the door monitor for recess in Mrs. Hanks’ class and moved to the bottom run in Mrs. Williams’ class.

I didn’t learn until I was 18 that I had dyslexia. My mother didn’t think I needed to know, I guess. I always knew something was wrong because my letters and numbers were flipped on school assignments and I had a booger of time reading assignments.

I still do read with difficulty. When I was in college, professors assigning chapters 1 to 3 for tomorrow sent me into a panic. I could never read that fast. Thankfully, my little dyslexic brain had mastered photographic memory, so when it came test time, I could go through the materials an hour before, take visual pictures of everything, take the test, and then bulk erase all the photos.

I still do this by the way. I have since found out that I have a brain that can remember tons of events with almost scary accuracy. Names, events, trivia, places. Not people though. Strangely, I got cheated on that skill. I can see a person a couple days ago and not remember their name today. Give it a month, and I won’t remember them by face at all.

I’m good with that. I have found in recent years that I truly am a freak of nature. I can bring up something that was long lost by someone else. For example, my one ex hated the word “moist.” I don’t think she would remember this, but I was tempted to send her a t-shirt from Amazon that slayed the word across its front.

People often mistake that I can remember all these things is because I yearn for something from the past. I don’t. For some reason beyond my control, stuff just ends up logged in the nooks and crannies of my memory banks.

My dyslexic brain probably has other skills I take for granted. I can easily connect seemingly unconnected concepts as if I had a connect-the-dots picture to draw, but there are no numbers to connect. I can see the picture and draw it on the fly, connecting things I know, things others know, things totally unknown. It doesn’t matter the subject or subjects at hand. I can dazzle folks in a meeting with my ability to do this.

There is a downside. Perhaps every superpower must. My Kryptonite is the ability to think in linear patterns. A to B to C, etc. is difficult for me in my everyday life, unless it is written. My wife loves to chide me about this, as I will be halfway through a process and drift off, never taking it to the end.

I could claim that my big-picture brain already knows the outcome, but that’s simply not true. I get lost in logical pursuits. And this is why I don’t like puzzles, mysteries and escape rooms. They require too much linear thought. I know people love escape rooms, solving all the clues or problems in order to get out. Me? I already know the door will open when time is up so what’s the point of sucking up brain time with such silly linear things?

It’s not that I am anti-social or don’t like games. It’s just that my brain is wired differently from others that I know. They often think I’m not having fun when, in fact, I am having a ball! I love to watch others as they indulge in nearly every activity imaginable. It feeds my brain. I’m kind of like Johnny 5 in Short Circuit, except that I don’t yell out “More Input! More Input!” Perhaps I should. 🙂

It’s been this way for as long as I can remember. It’s why, in my younger days, I would get frustrated with others because they couldn’t see the big picture. They were caught in the minutia, things that I already knew didn’t matter in the end.

As I look to my retirement years, I’m glad that I can put my professional mind to rest. I am so blessed to have been able to make up stuff and get paid for 40 years. But I am looking forward to not having to sit in another meeting, trying to behave as everyone else takes an hour to get to the conclusion I came to five minutes in. And I won’t have to execute all those important details they hammered out in the intervening 55 minutes because I’ve already mapped out the most efficient route.

Instead, I will be able to let my freakish brain go wherever it wants to, without judgment, without the need to keep bread on the table or explain my superpowers to those who think I’m trying to be superior. I am just me. I always have been. I just didn’t always know it.

Somewhere north of the Emerald City, wondering why the big guy upstairs decided to make me the freak of nature I am,

  • Robb