OUTDOOR TRUTHS: Meeting Autistic Teenager Who Loves Life
By Gary Miller
I’m blessed to be able to meet and talk to hunters and fishermen in many parts of the country. This club is made up of so many different people and from so many different walks of life and each is welcomed. I can honestly say these sports open their doors to men, women, and youngsters of all races, religions, and backgrounds. And although some still do, hunting is a wonderful activity that allows each one of us to enjoy it without having us turn into someone we are not.
I can remember the time when that was particularly hard for me. As a teenager and young adult, I was constantly trying to be someone else. I wanted to run with the big dogs, while the truth was, I was a much smaller version. It was not good enough just to be me; I wanted to be someone else. I wanted to be able to speak like someone else, wear what someone else wore, and carry myself like someone else. After doing this for a while I began to get tired. I was weighted down with the lives of me and this new individual. It was hard enough to be me much less be me and someone else.
It was a great day in my life when I decided that I would set out to just be me. Now that didn’t mean I would have license to treat others unkindly, but it just meant that I would hone me into a better me, not hone me into someone that I was not. Sometimes I wish that I were better than what I am. Sometimes I wish I could speak like some of the great orators. Sometimes I wish I could write like some of the great classic and contemporary authors. But my speaking style is mine and my writing is mine as well. I hope that each grows in maturity but I still want both to reflect who God made me to be.
I really want to be like Carson. Carson was a young man I met last week while speaking at a sportsmen’s event. He was an autistic teenager who loved life. His mother said that Carson broke the categories for autism. He was not mildly verbal, verbal, or non-verbal. He was explosively verbal! I still laugh at that characteristic of him. Carson was an encourager and so enjoyed his presence at the event. But what caught my attention more than anything else was what he told me as I was introduced to him. He offered a few words and then with a large smile on his face said, “I like being Carson!” I told him, “I like you being Carson.” He smiled again.
It took me nearly 30 years to learn what Carson learned and loved in only 14. I was humbled at his love for who God made him to be and renewed my own vow to “like being Gary.”
Gary Miller can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com