Sunday, October 10, 2010

Play It as It Lays

I own an "emotions" deck of cards. It's sized like a regular deck of playing cards, but instead of queens and jacks and aces, you've got happy children, sad children, bored children, children twisting their faces into rictuses of disgust.

I suppose you could use these cards like semaphores, broadcasting to the outside world what's going on within the besieged fortress of your skin. But your skin has its own semaphores, and unless you are a member of the secret service, folks can usually tell when you're in the grip of joy, sorrow, weariness, or pain.

Most folks, but not so many kiddos with autism. Autistic kids have trouble with theory of mind, the idea that other people have feelings and thoughts distinct from their own. Autistic kiddos have trouble interpreting facial cues and flavors of voice. They don't always pick up on "mad" or "sad" or "afraid." The cards are used to help coach them. Is she happy or sad? Angry or surprised?

It's another sunny morning in Virginia.

I awoke, as I've awakened for the last several months, with a nagging undertow of dread. Today I have to go to church. Tomorrow I have to work. Four days from now I have to travel, concertize, socialize, make it through. Dread, and fear, are cards I understand.

When's the last time I felt excited? Would I even recognize the shape of my own face in the grip of fearless, joyous anticipation?

Study up.


Mara said...

I hope you know you used "lays" incorrectly. Yes, sure, it rhymes, but does that really justify it?

Anne said...

It's a Joan Didion reference! She's got a novel by that name...

Mara said...

Well, shame on her then! (I guess. I'm not sure I want to stand up to Joan Didion.)