Anne Smith :: Blog for March 2018

March 22, 2018

Hello, Everybody-

I'm busy working on my "Good Guys" music video project, enjoying a beautiful stretch of cool, sunny and breezy Florida weather, and looking forward to putting all of the pieces together for a crowdfunding campaign. It's stretching me beyond my comfort zone, but unless artists are flexible, they break! I'm just trying to stay in the flow...

Speaking of flow:

"Fairies don't need clocks." That is the best, most profound statement I have heard in recent days. I cannot divulge the name of the four year old child who told me this while we were sitting on the floor of her kitchen, playing house. She is breathtakingly beautiful; and she is autistic. Her life is literally scheduled to the minute with timers, therapies and routines. She knows when "that" timer goes off in the kitchen it is imperative for her to take her anti-seizure medication. As we play together, I am drawn into her world. I relish the moments when she will stay still in one place for more than 5 minutes and attend to a task. Right now she is preoccupied with lining up pairs of spoons and forks on the lines of a dishtowel in sets that organize the patterns on their handles. The spoons have to go up, the forks have to go down. She asks me questions to test my understanding of what she is trying to do. Two little red frying pans are stacked on top of each other next to the silverware, prompting me to say, "Look, the handles are like the hands of a clock." Her reply stuns me; not only because a four year old autistic and reticent child has spontaneously given me a brilliant response, but also because she has so succinctly acknowledged her magical being-ness, while rejecting the constraints of time that keep her life so regimented and challenging. All children need to play more. We all need to play more. It's how we enter the flow. It's how we nourish and grow our genius.

Her mother is a highly educated woman with a background in medicine. She firmly believes that it was the combination MMR vaccine (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) that triggered her daughter's violent seizures and sudden onset of autism, as is the case with an alarming number of other children both in the US and the UK, whose profiles are almost identical to my little friend's. She sent me the link last night to a controversial documentary that investigates the CDC's destruction of a study linking autism to the MMR vaccine. Released in 2016, "'VAXXED-From Cover-Up to Catastrophe"," was whisked off the programs at some pretty prominent film festivals. It is the most outrageous, whistle blowing documentary I have ever seen, whose message is corroborated by an insider, a senior scientist at the United States CDC.

While the debate continues, hundreds of children continue to be diagnosed in what is often called "The Age of Autism." As the CDC works tirelessly with the media, pharmaceutical companies and leaders of our government to promote their image as protectors of our health who have our best interests at heart, our children are paying the price. As more and more VPK programs and schools turn down special needs students because they lack resources to handle their needs, more students are slipping through the cracks, more agencies look the other way, "mental illness" suddenly becomes the convenient explanation for gun violence, and once more, our children pay the price. In the aftermath of the tragic shooting in Parkland, there was much speculation and blame on the multiple conditions of depression, bi-polar, autism, and attention deficit exhibited by Nikolas Cruz, the shooter. This horrible event high lights the extreme division that exists in our nation at a time when we desperately need to change the lens of our rigid "either/or" view to a "both-and" position.

What is at the root of this insanity? Greed. How about all the marketing, medications and prescriptions to treat autism? How about the financial havoc and heartache it wreaks on families? Who benefits the most? What is it going to take to make things right? Not more guns, not more medication.

These are the thoughts in my mind as I sit with this beautiful child, a trapped angel, whose bright brain is a tangle of misfiring neurons, her circuits running so hot that at times she slams her head in a total agony of frustration or runs endlessly on tip toe, arching her back and thrusting her arms upward in exhausting displays of physical activity. She is only seeking peace, order and balance. Yesterday she brought out an old toy to show me, a pink imitation iPad that plays songs, most of them nursery rhymes. There was one song, her favorite, that stood out from the rest: "Turkish March", by Wolfgang Mozart. I immediately pulled up YouTube videos of different versions. Over twenty peaceful minutes passed as we watched them. She wanted to know all the girls' names in the Ivy String Quartet. She mimicked a pianist's fingers. She ordered me: "Find a girl who is four, playing violin." I did and she chortled, wrinkling her nose at the badly-out-of-tune performance. "Annie, did you like that?" The last version I played was by a Russian symphony orchestra. She slid from my lap and danced about; a wild little flame, leaping , twirling, gesturing. Unexpectedly she stopped and ran to me on tip toe, looking so small and vulnerable in her pajamas, crying. Me: "What is the matter, sweet girl? Tell me why you're crying." Tiny arms clung to me tightly as she pressed her face into my neck. So many tears. Her: "I don't know.."

I know. I do. Music is a starting place to put things right. Its universal elements target the hardest of hearts, the most rigid of minds, and the most tormented of souls. I am someone who looks at all sides of conflict. Can I ask you to consider the following description of Mozart at 17 years of age, and imagine how he might be regarded by his peers, teachers, and law enforcement in an American high school today?

“He often gave the impression of being not entirely present, as if his mind were caught up in an invisible event. Portraits suggest a man aware of his separation from the world. In one, he wears a hard, distant look; in another, his face glows with sadness. In several pictures, his left eye droops a little, perhaps from fatigue. ‘As touchy as gunpowder,’ one friend called him. Nonetheless, he was generally well liked.”
-Alex Ross, "The Storm of Style"

Can I ask you to envision a society that arms every child with a musical instrument as soon as he/she is old enough to hold one?

Music is a magical, timeless source of healing, transformation, integration, order and balance. The cost is negligible. The time is always now. You don't need a clock.

Until Next Time xoxo-

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