Saturday, April 02, 2011

The logician and the mystic

Bones: It's the truth.
Booth: Well, it sounds like the truth cause it's so rational, right, but, you know, the true truth is that you hate Christmas, so you just spout out all these facts and you ruin it for everyone else.
Bones: I ruin the true truth with facts?
Booth: Yeah, and you ruin it for the squint squad, too, by making them work on a case about a guy who's been sealed up in a fallout shelter for 50 years.
Bones: Okay, how would you like me to spend my Christmas?
Booth: Christmas is the perfect time to reexamine your standing with, you know... (pointing upward)
Bones: A helicopter pilot?
Booth: Oh, right, right. You can't measure the man upstairs in a beaker, so he can't possibly exist.
Bones: "The man upstairs?"
Booth: Mmm. You know, you don't know if you're sick, but you're more than willing to take drugs just in case. Seems to me you could give the man upstairs the same benefit of the doubt that you do an invisible fungus.

I've never heard anyone on the TV series Bones refer to themselves or each other using the A word, but Temperance Brennan ("Bones") and most of her coworkers have the rationality, bluntness, and perseveration on bugs, body parts, bytes, Byzantine warriors, and botanicals that would make any Aspie beam up with pride. Brennan's partner Booth, on the other hand, is a committed Catholic who believes in mystery, psychology, and simple faith.

"Nothing is beautiful."

My 11-year-old Aspie appears by my bed near midnight, his eyes filled with tears. I pause Bones and Booth on my laptop, extending their moment of conflict.

"Nothing is beautiful," K. whispers again through trembling lips, and waits.

Tired and tense, his insides are sending him the faulty signal that the weariness originates in the world outside, I think. He recently confided that his mind is never silent: tapes of T.V. shows and conversations run through his head incessantly, indistinguishable from external sounds, until a real voice breaks in for comparison. I now understand why he has the T.V., C.D.s, or his own babble cranked at all times; the sound tethers him to reality. I hear nothing coming from his room.

"Nothing is beautiful." What do you mean?

"The only reason we see colours is because of the way objects react to the light. It's just the light. Without it, nothing in the world has beauty. I read it in a book."

So I was wrong, not a feeling originating inside, but a fact. I'm reminded of the day I came home from school broken by basic biology, fighting against the suggestion of tissues and cells, yelling at my mother, "I'm all one piece!"

I wrap my arms around him. He clings to my neck. He's so much taller now, his body feels almost foreign, and yet fragile still. I pull back to see his eyes. I know he's only 11, and I can't read by his face what he's thinking.

An Asperger's diagnostic criteria page flips through my mind: "marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction." I consider the moving target for my words, tone, and expression. But I trust our connection.

"Are you only a bunch of cells or are you something more? Knowing the scientific explanations does not reduce the mystery, the poetry." I'm speaking more to myself. I can't see if he's with me. But he's calmer. I need to keep talking before the voice in his head interrupts.

A word settles on the fringes of thought. The light. Christ.

Yes. "I Am the light of the world."

I'm making it up as I go. "That's why God make the light first. That's why Jesus said he is the light. He holds everything together. He's the light that makes everything beautiful. That's why we know heaven is beautiful even though we don't understand it, because Jesus is there."

I wait. His eyes sparkle. "Yes. That makes sense!"

My boy. The one who wowed the neighbours with explanations of pollination at age 4, is also the kid who had a vision of angels at age 5. The best of Booth and Brennan in one heart-stopping Justin Bieber-like package.

"'Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.' When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them." (John 12:36)

Booth: There's a story here we don't know yet.
Bones: Like what?
Booth: Bones, "don't know" means it's a mystery.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

Well that's going to keep me crying for quite a while. Such a beautiful story, such a perfect answer from you to K. And so much more meaningful to me now too while I watch my 1 year old being tested as having the intelligence of a 3 or 4 year old and yet be completely unable to make his own body and mind stop moving long enough to fall asleep.