Getting used to places

This is a post on silence, observation, and relaxing.

The other night I got a train home. For the first time in ages. At night.

I was nervous. Walking across some tracks on a pedestrian crossing, anxiety bloomed. “Normal people don’t feel this” I thought. 🙇

I kept walking onto the platform. My heart racing and pulsing. My head feeling funny. Then uncomfortable and busy. I was in a kind of daze.

It took a while to orient myself with what to do.

I looked around at everything on the platform. Looked at each thing until I could feel myself using it.

My eye caught on the timetable 🚏 and I took a while reading it. familiarising myself with it.

I saw the water station. “Water!” I thought, filling my bottle.

“I must wait now” I felt, looking for seats running down the conductor’s building.

I sat. Waited. ⏳ In silence. My head was too busy for external output. I needed to process my racing thoughts, give them time to fall into place.

But not so silent. I heard a truck passing by. Traffic. The pedestrian crossing. 🚦I looked at that for a while, listening. I began to notice patterns. Mechanisms.  These sounds felt comforting after a while. Engineering and electronics were keeping people safe. 🚧

My attention moved on. Now I acquainted myself with the sights. The half empty lot next door. The bunches of trees around the place. 🌳 Nature. 🌳 I like nature. 🌳 Being surrounded by it. 🌳

📢 “In two minutes the Cleveland train will be approaching the station. Please stand behind the yellow safety line.”

Those words. How many times I’d heard them? Hundreds? Not for many years, but the were vivid. Etched in my memories. A sense of peace came over me. 🙂

Another announcement. The train gets closer as my heartbeat quickens. The train slows, as do my thoughts and pulse rate.

As the people trickled, then streamed off the platform, and through a pedestrian crossing, I saw a curious thing. People walking fast. Then slowing down. “Environmental factors” I thought. “What could they be?”🔭🔬

The departing train was going past on the other set of rails. When the train had gone, people slowed down while crossing the tracks. They slowed down even more when reaching the sidewalks.

“So everyone gets anxious when they’re on train tracks”. With that explanation I was not feeling as separate from other people. A barrier pulled down.

When a train pulls up to my side of the platform, 🚈 anxiety rises sharply again. Just considering standing up and near the train exponentially rises it some more.

“Stay” I thought. “Your seat is safe”. I kept sitting until the train had almost stopped. Walking to the nearest door, I noticed the absence of imagining the train will hit me. When the train stopped, my anxiety dropped sharply. I felt peaceful again.

Being on the train felt comforting. Like I was going home in a safe place. I don’t often feel like this. It was lovely.

Get used to your surroundings

If you are scouting areas in advance or trying to get used to a place, sit in silence. Take your time to listen to the sounds, and get familiar with the sights and smells of an area.

Allow your natural interest and wonder to rise. Look for patterns. Us Aspies can be great at finding patterns.

Feeling at home came with a feeling of knowing what is going on around me and why.

Social Stories to Familiarise

I’m glad I got there early. I got to hear sounds and see patterns that govern people’s behaviour – including my own.

If you’re a parent using social stories with your kids, ask yourself “Do I do this?” Do you allow your child to sit in utter silence. Wait. Listen. Watch. Really get familiar with a place?

Don’t be chatting away to them. Don’t use their one sentence observations and questions become a conversation. Let them gradually get comfortable.

Let our beautiful minds work as they naturally do. Let us sit in silence.

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