An Ambitious Mind

The inner voice of a sixteen-year-old boy

Hi everyone, my name is Dante. I am sixteen years old, a junior in high school, and ever since the day I entered middle school I have always been on the high honor roll. After I graduate from high school, I will be enrolled in Lemoyne College. I can’t wait! I love going to school! I learn more and more every day and I get to spend time with my many friends and the wonderful and caring teachers. I love reading books and participating in all kinds of what I call “fun stuff”. In the summertime, I spend most of my days swimming and just hanging out around the pool. I’ve always considered water, nature, animals, the wind, the stars, and the sky as friends. When I was very young, people always wondered why I didn’t talk much, I never looked at them, and why I was always pointing and writing letters in the air. When I overheard someone say how much I preferred to be by myself, it made me feel desperately lonely. It still does.  

 I love to go for long walks, and many times I would just take off running as fast as I can for no good reason and I couldn’t seem to stop. Nature and all that is a part of it feels like a comfortable blanket that is wrapped around me to keep me safe and warm. I love music concerts with lots of people around me, and my mom and grandmother always have to drag me away from the State Fair every year. I’m usually way too pumped up on caffeine. One time I didn’t sleep for three days! 

My best friend is my new thirteen-year-old sister Alyssa. We’ve always been inseparable. I’m a real fussy eater and when I throw temper tantrums or do something wrong, I get told off or laughed at but Alysa is always there to calm me down. Then there are the times when I drive my mother crazy. She may not be aware of it, but sometimes she drives me nuts too. All of this sounds pretty “normal” doesn’t it? Well, in my world it is. 

The world can be a scary place for everyone, but more so for those like me who have a hard time expressing themselves. We know what we want to say, but the words sometimes get lost somewhere in our heads among lots of other stuff swirling around. Sometimes I just repeat things people tell me to say.  Even so, I have been known at inappropriate times to shout out some pretty choice words. If you’ve ever met someone like me who has a hard time “fitting in”, you should spend time with them, I’m sure they would like that a lot. I keep changing over time, just like you because my brain is wired differently than yours.

I guess by now you may have figured out that I live in a world referred to as the Autism Spectrum. Now before you go on feeling sorry for me, please don’t. You see I am no different than you or any other kid my age. I live a happy and fulfilled life thanks to the people who love me; especially my mom and my grandmother. From the day I was born I have been surrounded by angels. They are my friends. You may not think they exist, but they do. Over time I have grown to be able to do a number of things that I couldn’t do when I was younger, and nowadays I’m a lot sunnier.   

From what I see, it’s time to celebrate the things that make us different, as well as what makes us the same. Let’s face it, we’re equal, we’re different, we all need one another, and that no one should be left out or alone. Spending time with other people with disabilities like me will be a rare look for you inside a beautiful mind; an entry into an entirely unknown world. By listening to each other’s  “voice”, we will understand its echoes and stretch our vision of what it means to be human. It will astound you, ground you, and I know that I and other people like me will feel less alone. I just want to be the best person I can be. 

I hope my words will help you understand how painful it is when you can’t express yourself to the people you love. If what I have said connects with your heart in even some small way, then I believe you’ll be able to connect back to the hearts of other people with Autism. 

Well, that’s it for now. Helping people is such an easy thing to do. All you have to do is show up! 

Maybe I’ll come back someday so we can talk some more. I guess I’ll talk, you’ll listen. Sorry, I still get mixed up sometimes. 

Until then, be kind, be careful, and just be yourself!

Dante

This Is The Place

This is the place;

Where the seasons that are four remind us that we sit at the threshold of natures magnificent door

Where rivers, lakes, ponds, and trails, wait patiently for our return 

Where life is good again once the clouds roll by

Where roads and sidewalks lead us to places we call our destiny 

Where there are speed bumps and speed limits, but no limits to what we can do together   

Where there will be no more wasted days or nights, 

Where neighbors count more than just a number on a house

Where we can wake up to nature’s alarm clock and stay out until the cows come home

Where the days add up by counting our blessings,

Where children no longer live in the shadows, but with their heads held high to the sky

Where the lights, tinsel, and gently falling snowflakes of Christmas, take the child that lives 

within us on a sleigh ride down Memory Lane

Where we can celebrate normal everyday

Where we don’t listen to what the doubters say

Where we put our roots down deep and watch things grow, 

Where life is as good as gold, with an abundance of things that can’t be bought nor sold

Where we put our hands to the sky to reach closer to someone who we’ve lost 

Where the things that really matter will always matter

Where wings that fly don’t just belong to Tinker Bell or the birds of the sky  

Blessings everyone.

Is Autumn only at the fall of the leaf

Autums prismatic colors arrive as crisp and as golden as an apple, while you carve your smile into a thousand pumpkins.

When it comes to Autumn splendor, there is no place on earth to feel it better than in Central New York’s  Leatherstocking country– our home. It’s a seasonal feast that captures an abundant palate of unforgettable nourishment, and fills our plates with plenty of colors to stimulate our five senses; especially our intuitive sixth sense of “mysticism”.  It’s a door that opens to a world full of the sublime things yet to come. Autumn makes everything seem right with the world. Things in life just seem to be “better.

The kaleidoscope of magnificent colors is bewildering. Pumpkins, burning leaves, apple cider, apple fritters, and a never-ending assortment of some of the best apples grown this side of the Pacific ocean, don’t even begin to round out the menu. All roads lead to one of nature’s best performances. Take the back roads as much and as far as you can. They will lead you to the small villages, quaint shops, the best food, and everyone’s favorites; antique shops, old red barns, and covered bridges. It’s time for all of us to surrender to the magical world of Autumn in Leatherstocking country.

As you can tell, I’m already very contagious, so if you want just a little of what I’ve got, wave to me if you see me. I’ll be out there somewhere and I’ll even buy you breakfast!  It’s the American thing to do!

Now get at it…

Peace and Harmony On A Country Road

An uncommon Encounter 

After my daily walk through Eastwood last Sunday, I did some writing, then headed out with a sense of impetus to look for a roadside stand that sold a stone statue of the Blessed Mother. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, so the decision was made to go the extra few miles and visit some friends in Canastota. Since no one was around, I decided it was time to head back home. My choice at that point was to stay on the main highway or to take the road less traveled. It was an easy choice for me. I turned off the highway onto a secondary road, and a little way up the road I spotted a small cemetery.

As soon as I entered, the feeling of “intent” got stronger. I drove my car to the top of the hill, then walked throughout the cemetery taking pictures of old gravestones, not paying any attention to the ground underneath me. I tripped over a gravestone, lost my balance, and fell to the ground. I got up, brushed myself off, and thought; maybe there was a reason I tripped over that particular stone. I remained a bit curious. It was a very old flat stone embedded in the dirt with a corner exposed just enough to catch someone’s foot. I was going to take a picture of it, but I don’t remember why I didn’t. Everything on it was completely faded and unreadable except for the name Issac.

It was time to leave.      

After a few miles, I came to a fork in the road. I drove onto a secondary dirt road and about a mile down, I pulled my car to the side of the road with a beautiful view of open fields leading up to what appeared to be a good-sized farm. Coming down the road was a horse-drawn carriage with an Amish couple. As they passed by the husband looked straight ahead, while his wife held an infant cradled securely in her lap, glanced at me with an expression of deep determination. I headed down the road into the quietness of the late afternoon countryside, while the serenity of the moment opened up around me with a welcoming voice. 

Now with a clear view of the farm on my left, my eyes caught sight of a small group of people heading down a tree-lined dirt road on the opposite side of the farm. It wasn’t long before I caught their attention. A few more steps ahead and I noticed two people heading back up the road. The others stayed where they were. When we caught sight of each other we shared a cordial “Hello”. They appeared to be a husband and wife and they stood in silence waiting for me to speak. I introduced myself and explained what I had just witnessed in regard to the couple in the buggy. I said that when I realized that they were Amish, it piqued my curiosity.

The husband was cordial, but a bit suspicious. We continued talking, and by then the rest of his family had come and gathered just behind them. Two teenage girls, two girls in their twenties, a boy and girl both around the age of 5. 

They were all in plain dress, very well behaved, and respectful. The father did all the talking. He and I discussed our biblical faith, living a simple life, while both of us holding onto peace as a core value; our belief in a Godly way of life. He asked a few more questions, and from the tone of his voice and facial expressions from the answers I gave, I felt that we had already established a sincere and trusting friendship. 

The more we spoke the more curious I became, and I felt comfortable enough to ask if I could share fellowship with them at another time. He agreed. I felt his gesture of friendship was sincere and genuine; from the heart. I stood wanting more of them and I would like to think they felt the same. I plan on going back next Sunday. Even if our fellowship ended on that day, I would remember the moments spent with these scriptural people and the pastoral land that God made.  

On the surface it appeared their lifestyle to be staid and inflexible, however, it reflects a genuine way of life with an abundance of modesty, obedience, equality, and simplicity. They want to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they leave behind, not by physical appearance. My exact thoughts. Thou shall not make unto thyself a graven image. Dressed as not to draw attention to oneself, it is unlikely not to notice.

One more thing.

When I mentioned my little “mishap” in the cemetery, the man said that his great grandfather is buried there. I asked for his name. He replied, “Issac”. I never did get the man’s name.

I guess I’ll just have to go back Sunday and find out. 

My Darling Soldier Girl

My Darling Soldier Girl
Is a source of pride and joy
She marches with the best of them
Keeps up with soldier boys

My Darling Soldier Girl
Loves country, friends, and family
She’s capable and confident
There’s nothing she can’t be

My Darling Soldier Girl
Reaches for the moon and sky
She’s bright, brave, and beautiful
There’s nothing she won’t try

My Darling Soldier Girl
Is so strong, yet gentle too
There’s nothing in this world
That my soldier girl can’t do

– Carol Wood aka Platoon Nana

Delightedly Childish

Living in the present is essential to our well-being, and the child in us is what makes all things possible — all things worthwhile. Here, you may find yourself again living in a world of renewed playfulness, without concerns about money, productivity, or being “cool”. Delightfully candid snapshots of children worldwide will teach us that there are no limits to our imaginations and that everything we need is within our grasp. Children make us better adults. Let the child in you give rebirth to the things you once thought were lost forever, while you take them by the hand and follow them while they guide you to the abundant tranquility you will feel by living in the moment.

Every child is an artist, teacher, and healer. Watch them at play and as they dream with their heads in the clouds, while they paint a new world for you to help you regain your sense of wonder and heal your wounds. 

Bury The Past? – Never. But stop digging up the bad stuff!

 The New America– A Vision of Promise

Throughout history, conflicts abound (and are of such intensity that they) create so much suffering that humanity, in order to remain aligned with the roots of its conscience and morality, must seek to address the root causes of such conflicts, bringing an end the destruction that their continuance would create.

Such is the time we are now engulfed in; a time in which the latest separation of our ideals upon which our country was founded is fading quietly while rapidly being replaced by fear, hostility, and suspiciousness. Yet, in the meantime, it’s creating great dissension between certain groups of people. There is no remedy for this strife other than that there cannot be a world of peace where one brother fights against another, feels that they are of greater importance than another, or have less of a right to exist than another. What affects one nation affects the world, and the consciousness of humanity must soon grow to incorporate and embrace this truth so that the world as a whole can finally find a resting place of peace and harmony. 

We need not bury the past, it has its rightful place, but constantly digging it up in favor of fueling hatred and anger among its people creates an eternal chasm of unsettled and ongoing separation. 

Love for America has many colors and visible good, and these may be seen to join together when trust is present to work toward a common good.  For America’s virtue is not her might or economic superiority, it is her grandeur in pronouncing the spiritual truths by which all men may live, and her righteousness is creating a path toward the realization of these truths. 

The “new patriotism” that America needs is based on its diversity, not homogeneity of belief. It is based on honor and trust, not on fear of one another. It is also based on a changing view of America’s role in the world toward one in which she stands proudly among nations, wearing the banner of morality and integrity that has to do with faithfulness to her ideals, not to be better or greater than others

The freedoms of yesterday are as priceless today as they were then. It is time for all to awaken to the need to preserve and protect that independence upon which America has been built, so that in unity with one another, America can move forward past the darkness that has descended upon her, into new construction of identity.

This new consciousness will be both a healing and a rebirth for the fundamental principles upon which she has always stood.  They are necessary to the furtherance of the destiny of America and they are essential to the advancement of the positive rights of the people, not to be erroneously mistaken for “negative” rights that permit or require doing nothing. Freedom and self-determination must belong to all or they belong to none. We must find a way of speaking with each other, and of seeking the accord that may only be found beneath the outer disturbances of relationships within the true essence of unity that rests below.

A new consciousness must be established for our children to bring forth for righteous sake and the sake of our nation’s future dedicated to the collection, cultivation, and preservation of her sacred honor.

I am America

I am America.
I am a man of a certain age who still believes in God, and the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
I am a nation whom the rest of the world must look upon to find answers,
I am picnic baskets waiting to be filled with simple foods prepared by loving hands. I sit quietly and peacefully down by the lake in anticipation of the warm and beautiful sunny days of summer. I am a glorious early spring morning awaiting those who choose to feel and smell me.
I am America.
I am a mother surrounded by many angels to ease my pain and suffering,
I am Jason, a brave heart,
I am a voice who speaks the truth and needs people to lend me their ears,
I am ears waiting to hear the truth,
I am on a distant path waiting for someone to discover me and let me lead them to a beautiful singing pond with the morning dew lighting the way,
I am a land that used to be called “promised”, and I still do promise if you will just hold my hand and together make a stand,
I am a father who understands that the love of God and family alone is worth the fight,
I sometimes long for yesterday, but look towards the end of a perfect day,
I am country music, hamburgers, corn on the cobb, and iced tea,
I am down home and I still love my hometown,
I am Mother Earth’s heartbeat, companion, and friend,
I am the land of the plenty, but also the land of the sad and suffering,
I am America.
I am a river of love seeking an ocean,
I am old, torn, and tattered car tires laying in a field in the shape of a heart with daisies growing around them,
I am children laughing and singing silly songs that are dancing in their heads,
I am a day like none other filled with hope, opportunity, and boundless love,
I am still a melting pot for all of God’s children, and the child in all of us,
I have discovered after searching for so far, that I cannot turn back,
I am a land with arms wide open waiting to embrace you,
I know we can only achieve real peace when we live inside each others’ wounds,
I have discovered that after all my searching, I have found a place of my own in the heart of a stranger passing me by,
I will not walk with my dirty feet in other peoples’ heads,
I will give inner peace a chance,
America I am.
I am a ship of leaders in the night, not a ship of fools,
I am a nation that must begin to replant the seeds of peace, and one by one we shall reap the harvest, singing and shouting the voice of victory,
I am Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn, and Tom Sawyer,
I am all the countless wonderful cities, towns, and villages spread across this great land waiting to be re-discovered,
I am Autism, the door that can unlock the love in your heart,
I am Dante, the keeper of the key,
I am the land of freedom, hope, and charity,
I once was blind but now I see,
I am America.
I am home.
It’s time to wake up and be awesome.

“Patriot” – The true meaning

There is a word that needs to circulate more within America to establish the credibility and morality of those who should claim it. The word is “Patriot”. Those of us who claim to be patriots are proud of this allegiance to which we ascribe.

It is considered to be aligned to what is morally right. Such things as a moral value, goodness, kindness, and courage to seek the truth, lie deep within the conscience of a patriot.

Much of the meaning of the word patriot belongs solely to those who honor its true meaning, and does not belong to those who disagree. Today this exclusion of others not considered to be patriotic seems to play a role in polarizing the American way of life today. If we are to move forward we all need to move toward the true meaning of patriotism.

We must build on what it means to be a patriot which has become to be a variety of things to different people. Some attributes are stronger in some individuals than in others. Some of the things that the word patriot has come to include:

  • Love for one’s country
  • Willingness to defend her
  • Understanding and commitment to the ideals upon which she was founded
  • Desire to rectify the mistakes that were made in the past
  • Commitment to obey with respect the founding documents
  • Faithfulness to the constitution

Although we may disagree with these principles and the practices of past and present governments, we must respect everyone’s point of view. America is not one thing, but many things. Patriotism is not one thing, but many things.

Trust and belief in the good that lies within all Americans will re-establish her might. Love for America has many colors and we must join together to work toward a common good.

The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it. Hope is the last thing ever lost. 

What is life’s purpose? – A perplexing question, with a simple answer.

Have you ever stopped to think about man’s significance in the universe or what it might take to claim your rightful role in life? You may ask.. Who am I? Where did I come from? How did I get here and what is my purpose?

Perplexing questions that we all need to find answers to.

The means to this end will only be met when we accept the profound explanations to these four salient questions of; origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. It’s essential that you seek the answers. If and when you arrive at the conclusions, you will find out that you knew the answer to life’s meaning all along.

Your life purpose is your contribution. True intention is about recognizing your own gifts and using them to contribute to the world, whether those gifts are playing beautiful music for others to enjoy.. helping friends solve problems, or simply bringing more joy into the lives of those around you. Then there will be no reason for doubt.

Each of us has a unique role in what we refer to as life.

It’s not an easy thing to find, but it’s not impossible. The trick is to do it.