Thursday, December 24, 2009

I was doing some research on polyphasic sleep cycles (the uberman, in particular), when I came upon the site of a man by the name of Steve Pavlina. I had never heard of this man before, but I went through the information he provided, which was quite well presented. Then I noticed something on the side: 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job.

This article should be close to every autistic's heart. In employment and in schooling, autistics are discriminated against like no other, because it's still considered OK to discriminate against us. Read that again.

There's another reason I agree with this article, however, and that reason is because of my Taoist beliefs. A nine to five is absurdly unnatural. You work when you feel like working. And when you don't feel like it? You're still working. This is unnatural and also contributes to poor productivity. When you are happy with your work, you do more, but you also produce a higher quality of work.

For the vast majority of people it becomes necessary to take a break from work after some time. Working in four 2-hour blocks spread throughout the day would allow a person to produce a higher quality of work, and more of it. Naturally, each person is different. Some cannot stand to work on a single task for more than a half hour, some do like working eight hours straight, and some would choose to work more or less than eight hours each day. In the end, though, my message is the same: Working when you are not enjoying your work is unnatural and, thus, unhealthy for the mind and spirit, which leads to poor bodily health.

Of course, there are ten reasons why Steve Pavlina believes we should not have jobs, and I will now shine my lens upon them:

1. Time for money & income generation while you sleep

The Newtonian autistic side of me cries out against the idea of trading time for money. Look at it this way: I have three pounds of a substance. I take away three cubic inches from the substance. How much of the substance do I have now? You don't know because pounds do not equal cubic inches. Despite conventional wisdom, time does not equal money.

Most certainly money can be used to buy many things, and time is one of them, but just as substances differ in density, time differs in monetary value based on the person, the day, or the time of day. Is my sleep time exactly equal to the time I spend watching TV (which I admit I do far too frequently)? Is my time watching TV equal to my mother's time watching TV? What about when either of us is asleep?

Time is very often precious and far too often is traded for much less than it is actually worth. Moreover, the money that is often paid for that time is used to purchase things of such minor value that the Taoist side of me is shocked that people do it at all. How important is it to be able to load webpages from your phone, or to go out and get drunk (something else that's rather unhealthy for the mind, body, and soul)? Did that trip to Vegas bring you happiness?

2. The wrong kind of experience

Autistics tend to do very poorly in the realm of social ritual, so being in the workforce would logically be a good thing for an autistic to do, as it would build their understanding of social rituals. Even if that were totally true, maybe we should also look at this:

A truly good person functions without ulterior motive.
A moralist acts out of private desires.
A ritualist acts and, when no one responds,
rolls up a sleeve and marches.

When we lose the Tao, we turn to Virtue.
When we lose Virtue, we turn to kindness.
When we lose kindness, we turn to morality.
When we lose morality, we turn to ritual.

Ritual is the mere husk of good faith and loyalty
and the beginning of disorder.

~Tao Te Ching, Chapter 38, as translated by Tolbert McCarroll

I have had people say the most horrible things merely because I forget to say "thank you" or because I don't wave. For some reason, we hold the ritual in the highest regard. "Your thanks are enough" is supposed to be the kind of thing that a wonderfully good person would say. What if I forget to thank them, though? Will they turn their back on me?

Finally, as a minor autodidact in a number of fields (from trigonometry to law to religion), I must protest the idea that the experience provided in the workplace, where it is structured and determined for you, is superior to experience gained outside of the workplace.

3. You are not free

Once, when Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P'u River, the king of Ch'u sent two officials to go and announce to him: "I would like to trouble you with the administration of my realm."

Chuang Tzu held on to the fishing pole and, without turning his head, said, "I have heard that there is a sacred tortoise in Ch'u that has been dead for three thousand years. The king keeps it wrapped in cloth and boxed, and stores it in the ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead and have its bones left behind and honored? Or would it rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud?"

"It would rather be alive and dragging its tail in the mud," said the two officials.

Chuang Tzu said, "Go away! I'll drag my tail in the mud!"

~Chuang Tzu, Chapter 17, translated by Burton Watson

That's really all that needs to be said about that, ever. Drag your tail in the mud.

4. You lose a lot of money from your pay before it even gets to you

I once again go back to my earlier argument about the value of time versus the amount of money people are paid for their time. It's not enough.

5. Employment is risky

And even moreso for autistics. Autistics are fired far too often for merely not being social enough. Autistics tend to deal in ideas, and wherever there are ideas, there will be people who wish to hear them, and especially support those with these ideas. The wise will always seek more wisdom, no matter its source.

In the workplace, however, ideas are considered to be nearly useless compared to how well your boss or your coworkers like you. Neurotypicals don't like people who don't follow social norms so well, or ones who have an expressionless face, or those that don't like to be touched. As such, an incredibly bright and productive autistic can and often is fired for the simple infraction of not being well-liked.

6. Boss means evil bovine master

I have nothing to say, but the word "boss" is apparently very descriptive.

7. Asking others for more income, rather than producing it yourself

A long time ago, if you were hungry, you went and got food. If you wanted a new spear, you made one yourself, or you traded some animal skins to a guy with little clothing, but a lot of spears. The point is this: If you needed something, you did what needed to be done to get it.

If you need something now, it takes money. If you don't have enough, you need to go and ask someone else to do something about it. This is unnatural, and thus something that Taoism teaches us to avoid.

Also, as stated before, autistics are not the most charming of people. I have a hard enough time selling myself in an interview. I have little faith in my ability to sell myself as deserving of a raise.

8. Socially active amongst coworkers only

Neurotypicals are wonderful at being able to avoid offending people. To the average autistic, this ability seem superhuman. Autistics bring up controversial topics, are extremely blunt about their beliefs and opinions, and I, at least, am very good at picking apart any argument placed before me. I also tend to be in constant debate mode. Conversations are a mystery to me. All this ends with the autistic sitting alone, wondering why everyone else has stormed out, and why they refuse to speak to him the next day at work. Normally, it wouldn't be a problem for me. I prefer to associate with people who are not so easily offended just by someone not agreeing with them unconditionally.

When that person is a coworker, however, the issue becomes serious. I can choose to not associate with others. With a coworker, either we must associate with one another, or one of us must be out of a job. Who would they fire, do you think? The person who is hated, or the one who is hating them?

9. No more freedom

Human beings always long to be free. It is so much a part of our nature that no one is really sure how to separate it out from us. It has happened in the past, but it is rare and difficult. We long to seek what we choose, and why should we not? After all, Chuang Tzu claims that the reason why people are so confused today in matters of Virtue is that the sages came and spoke to our ancestors of our duties, of things we must do.

Autistics have a terrible time integrating into groups. If you want to see what a person who embraces true non-conformity is like, look no further than the autistic. Naturally, I don't mean coloring your hair pink because you want it to look different, just like everyone else. What I mean is that we don't bend so easily to pointless rules or to what we must do. Many autistics have done this because it is the only way they can exist in the workplace, but that is changing an inherent part of who we are. Or, if we do not truly change, only pretend to, then we are presenting a false face to the world; we are lying to those around us about who we are.

No one should have to lie about who they are because of the intolerance of others.

10. Afraid to change the situation

Objectivists would cry out against this, and though I am a fan of Terry Goodkind, I will leave the objectivist rallying cries to the objectivists.

Taoism has a concept that is very complex and difficult to understand for most, but is vital for living a natural life. This concept is "wei wu wei," often translated as "ideal inaction" or "ideal effortlessness." What is means is this: Do not expend more energy than you must. Use your energy to better your life or the lives of others (if you feel like doing such a thing). It takes energy to complain. That energy could be used to instead better your life, bring your closer to a natural life.

As an autistic, I am often faced with great challenges in my social life. Perhaps the greatest challenge is this: I must stay silent when I see a simple solution to the problem another person is complaining about. I've failed it nearly every time. It's a social ritual to listen to a complainer and do nothing about their complaint. It boggles my mind why such a thing is forbidden, but I am, apparently, not allowed to help them. It is in my autistic nature to see the practical. Complaining without action is not practical. Action without complaint is.

Normally, I don't buy into self help (despite my claim that Faith of the Fallen saved my life), but I have been browsing some of Steve Pavlina's blog entries about earning money online, increasing site traffic, and polyphasic sleep, and I have to say that it's extraordinarily helpful. It would definately be a good resource for me to look into in the future. I doubt I would be able to monetize this blog, for the simple fact that there really are few ways I would be comfortable with receiving money for it.


  1. Adelaide Dupont said...
    Must admit that I thought I was good at avoiding offending people, but I read the sentence as 'avoiding people who offend'.

    Great to see the work rituals and routines in terms of how they work or don't work with autism and Taoism and the combination of the 2.

    About number 8: I would probably think that the person who is hated would go first.

    If boss means bovine master then the rest of us are beasts of burden, sorry to say.

    I still sleep more than I use the computer or read. I only watch TV three hours a day at the most (or more likely a week).

    Like the story about the tortoise. It is probably more true to life than Aesop's story about the hare and the tortoise.
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