Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

And The Tide Comes Rolling In

Believe I may have mentioned that Awakening Heart throws these mini-meditation retreats every so often. We had one today, in the morning, so I headed over there right after the Early Swim. (1800 meters. A mighty mile, and change. Rah.) Although I've been told that the Big Spiritual Breakthroughs happen at these retreats, I've never experienced one myself. I experience small ones instead, like suddenly realizing months after the fact that at some point I had quit yelling at other drivers from the safety of my car. Just quit doing it, after having done it all my life. Wow. On second thought, maybe that is a Big Spiritual Breakthrough. It certainly seemed pretty big at the time.

At this particular mini-retreat, we talked a lot about anger. Bro. ChiSing had an experience with anger this week (yes! Buddhist monks still have tempers!) and we talked about that, as well as the Buddha's advice on how to meditate your way around anger. Short version: Love the person for his positive qualities, even if you are angry with him. If the person has no positive qualities, then love that person even more, because she is very sick, and without your love, she will probably die. (Yes, folks, it's time to embrace Sarah Palin. First one to do it without vomiting achieves Nirvana. Go!)

Seriously, though: As we were meditating after this lesson, I came to a stunning conclusion that may have actually been a Big Spiritual Breakthrough. This is pretty exciting, if you're me. A little background: Since oh, roughly birth, I've suffered from these seemingly random fits of anxiety. They're really kind of hard to describe, except as a feeling of being absolutely not-safe. At any moment the floor's going to open up and swallow me, some random blimp is going to plow into me, another car's going to hit me, I'm going to get fired or shot or nailed by a lightning bolt or otherwise inconveniently dispatched. They last about, say, half an hour and then they kind of just go away. There's sort of a pattern to when they show up but I haven't quite nailed it; all I can say is that they seem to be more common at certain times of the month than other times. And despite the lack of Jen-swallowing floors, random blimps, angry cars, firings, shots and lightning bolts, there seems to be fuck-all I can do about them except ride them out. What I tend to do instead is run around trying to reassure myself of the lack of Jen-swallowing floors and random blimps and angry cars and--yeah. This does not help, but it lets me feel like I'm doing something, which feels slightly better than not doing anything, I guess.

Anyway, today after the whole discussion of anger and meditation, it suddenly occurred to me that the fits of anxiety are caused by nothing. They come from nowhere and they don't mean anything, either. They are products of that wild and wacky organic brain disease of mine, and nothing more. See, bipolar disorder is a lot like epilepsy, which is one of the reasons they treat it with some of the same medications they use for epilepsy. Check out this link for some commentary by a doctor who treats both. One thing that both epilepsy and bipolar disorder have in common is the kindling effect, which can basically be summed up as, "the more episodes you have, the more episodes you're likely to have." And so it is with these fits of
anxiety. They just roll in like the tide.

Taking my regular cocktail of meds probably does a lot to keep them from getting worse, and there's one in particular that I can pop in emergencies, but guess what, people? Trying to figure out what causes them, and what's more, trying to find something to put a stop to them, actually gives them more power. I don't have to like it, but I'd do a lot better to Just Accept It and find some ways to cope with them when they're around (sometimes I can feel them coming, like the barometer dropping before a storm). I even came up with some ideas to that effect, which is also
kind of a new thing.

So that was it, my Big Spiritual Breakthrough. And I'm fine with it. I can become a stream-enterer some other time. Like maybe when I'm not being stalked by a Jen-hunting blimp.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Talk Thursday: Your Mission Statement in 300 Words (Or Less)

Well, it was either write that or write about the appropriate uses of chocolate, and I find it a little depressing to write about a substance I'm trying to avoid. (Which doesn't stop me from writing about alcohol, for some reason. Maybe because booze was never my drug of choice.)

Now this is interesting; I actually have some experience with writing a mission statement. When I was much, much younger and working at this law library in California, the director had this idea that we staff persons should all get together and write a mission statement. Yes, law libraries have mission statements, and I think this one's should have been "Send Help." Because if a boatload of escaped 19th-century lunatics had shipwrecked off the coast of San Diego and decided collectively to open up a law library, they wouldn't've been too far off from what we ended up with. From the guy who walked into Technical Services every so often, raised his arms and announced, "HENS! Praise my magnificence!" to the battleaxe who became the inspiration for my gun totin' librarian in Mindbender to the computer guy who was kind of permanently someplace else, there wasn't a normal person to be found for miles. And I'm just talking about the staff members. But I better not say anything else; some of them might still be alive, and I wouldn't want to piss them off.

Anyway: One day we all gathered in the director's office and set about crafting this mission statement. I knew we were in trouble when we spent roughly forty-five minutes on whether or not the first word should be, "To." I'm not sure what in hell else you'd start a mission statement with, but even with me keeping my trap firmly shut (winning situation for Jen? Uh, not exactly), the debate raged for hours. Three hours, to be precise, on the first paragraph. In case you're wondering, the pro-"To" crowd won. But it was a close thing. I seriously thought the anti-"To" forces were going to pull off a Hail Mary for a while there.

So I have a little experience with this, warped though it may be. In doing research for this blog post (research for a blog post? Who does that?) I was disappointed to learn that To dream the impossible dream, To sail beyond the sunset* and To be or not to be were all taken. This mission statement would need to be created from scratch. Luckily, the recipe was easy; two parts grandiosity, one part bullshit, one dash inspiration, sprinkle of pomposity, delusion of grandeur, two words I can't pronounce and a flair for the ridiculous. Stir thoroughly, tap dance backward in high heels, allow to rise and bake for two hours at three-fifty. And here's what I came up with:

To live a life of sane and happy usefulness, to be in harmony with other humans and fellow beings, to be a friend to everybody and an enemy to basically nobody, and to walk softly on the earth.

Forty-three words. Not bad, considering. At the last minute I went back and added,

And to tell great stories.

Hey, it's just something I do.

Alert! Next week is my week to come up with a Talk Thursday topic! If you have any ideas, leave 'em as a comment.

*No, not the boring old poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson; the novel by Robert Heinlein, may he rest in peace. Half my friends went into mourning when he died. (Low bow.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Talk Thursday (on Sunday): I Mind /I Don't Mind

Yet another week with two Talk Thursday posts. I'm telling you, this'll lead to the end of the world before the collective Mayan subculture can yell "December 21, 2012". But do I mind? No, I don't mind. Two chances to shoot my mouth off about nothing in particular is better than none. Besides, I'm not sure there really is a collective Mayan subculture, or if that's just a myth that periodically circulates in the colonias of San Sebastian. Remind me to ask somebody next time I'm down there.

Anyway: I mind a cat stomping on my stomach at six in the morning on a Sunday and demanding food. I don't, however, mind the same cat doing the same thing on a Monday, because if I'm not up by then I'm running very late indeed and should be thankful as hell to be waked up at all.

I mind cold swimming pool water for the first forty-five seconds after I jump into it. After that, though, I don't mind, because when swimming as hard as I'm known to do on a typical morning, the last thing I want to be in is water that's too darn warm.

I mind doing laundry and hauling wet sheets out of the washing machine into the dryer. I don't mind hauling the same sheets, dry and sweet-smelling, out of the dryer to be folded up and trekked back upstairs to be applied topically to a waiting mattress. Why I find one chore so annoying and the other one so not-annoying, I haven't the foggiest idea.

I mind grocery shopping. In fact, I mind it with a passion. When Joan had her hysterectomy and couldn't drive for six weeks, we damn near starved to death because I did. Not. Want. To Go. To. The grocery store. Dammit. But I don't mind making a list, checking it twice, and preparing the food once it shows up. Figure that one out. I certainly haven't.

I mind traffic, and I mind being stuck in it. I particularly mind being stuck in traffic for no apparent reason, i.e., we finally start moving and we never pass the scene of an accident. I don't mind getting off the freeway and winding my way down surface streets to get where I'm going. That's the job of an urban explorer, a.k.a me.

I mind running out of scented shower gel before I run out of matching scented lotion. I don't at all mind shopping for more at Bath & Body Works, home of the official nose party.

I mind that in a desperate attempt to keep people from getting high, those in authority think they need to ban new substances every time I turn around, such as bath salts. For God's sake nobody tell them that kids in my high school used to smoke coffee grounds. I don't mind that somebody in my nabe smokes pot in his back yard on a regular basis, though someone in authority might. (I do mind, a little, that the stuff makes me sneeze, even far distant as it is.)

Interesting to note that the parts I mind, as well as the parts I don't mind, are largely a matter of perspective. Move two feet to the right and look at it again and you might not mind at all. The basic existence of something, like a cup of coffee, doesn't change whether you like coffee or hate it. (I happen to love coffee.) To ascribe hateful or likeable aspects to something is a uniquely human characteristic. The cup of coffee probably has no feelings whatever on the subject. It's neutral. It's Switzerland. It just is, and if we could remember that about more things more often, we might have an easier time with life in general.

That enough for one night? Yeah, probably. But because I went to a horror movie and lived to tell the tale, let's close this one out with a Friday Fright (on Sunday): I saw Paranormal Activity 2 at the local dollar theater this afternoon. (By the way, the dollar theater's gone up to $1.25. Inflation. ) If you saw the original, you might wonder how exactly the critter that was haunting the house in San Diego got to the house in San Diego to start haunting it. You might also wonder what happened to the slightly crazed heroine after she disappeared at the end of the movie. Both these questions get answered in PA2 in a really clever way that I won't go into here, tying the two films together in a neat package that pretty much kills any possibility of a PA3. But I've said stuff like that before and been wrong. There are scares aplenty, most of them loud and startle-y, and a couple of them involve a pool cleaner (don't ask). Three stars. Jen says check it out. Joan says, no, don't, things will jump out at you and scare you fuckless. Both of us are essentially right. You have been warned.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Talk Thursday: Hangin' at Afrah

This is a blog post that almost wasn't. I discovered today that if you want your laptop to work when you sit down to dinner at your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant, you had better not leave it in your car all day when it's 35 degrees outside. The darn thing gets frozen, or rather, the battery does. I brought the laptop in here and tried to fire it up and it just sat there looking at me like a big dumb plasma screen, which is what I call it sometimes when I'm utterly frustrated. (Other times I threaten to harvest its parts for programmable toaster ovens. That usually does the trick.) Anyway, it occurred to me that if I warmed up the battery, the rest of the laptop might fall into line. So the battery spent some quality time stuffed down my shirt while I tried to write my post on my BlackBerry. Uh, not possible (the BlackBerry part), the browser doesn't recognize where the text is supposed to go. But a sojourn down the shirt seemed to do the trick. (Indeed, it has for many.) The next time I tried the laptop, it fired right up. We'll see how long that lasts, but at the moment we're okay (knock on Formica).

In case you ever wondered where I crank out these little musings on things big, small, gay, literary, religious, weird and bipolar, most of 'em get written right here; a restaurant called Afrah in the heart of Richardson, Texas. It's at the corner of Greenville and Belt Line Road, and it used to be a bakery, and before that it was a Braum's. I'm only bringing that up because they make the best pita bread in the entire known universe (yes, better than Fadi's; it's close, but it's the truth) and some of the spirit of Braum's and the bakery must have stayed around because there's this mildly sweet cinnamony yummyness about the pita bread that just makes you want to eat more of it. (Great place for a compulsive overeater to hang out. Yeah. Well, most nights I hold myself to a piece and a half.)

Afrah is across the street from the police station, about a block away from the Islamic Center, and within shouting distance of two or three colleges. The clientele tends to be youngish, Middle Eastern, and often traditionally dressed. Whole families, speaking Arabic or Farsi (I can't tell the difference, except that one is kind of softer on the vowel sounds) troop in and take over long tables. Arabic businessmen come in and hang out and shoot the breeze with the owner, a nice guy whose name I don't know but he seems to know me. Once in a while you get an older couple or a few police officers. And then there's, uh, me, the white chick with the enormous, uh, tracts of land. I kinda don't fit in.

Well, I guess everybody's used to me, because with the exception of one of the businessmen and some of the kids, nobody stares at me much anymore. Which is good, because I love this place. The pita bread is, as I may have mentioned, out of this world, but they also make the best hummus and baba ganouj in the entire tri-county area, and a chicken shwawarma that's not only fantastic, but will also keep all your enemies away for the next three days (serious garlic and serious yum). I really don't do sugar anymore so the desserts are kind of wasted on me, but they have about five different kinds of baklava, ten different kinds of gelato, two or three different kinds of cake and assorted homemade cookies that I usually end up buying and taking home for Joan.

My favorite thing about Afrah? The free wi-fi. No question. Oh, and they have a buffet on weekdays during lunchtime, and after sunset during Ramadan. But try getting near the place for the post-Ramadan festivities. It's standing room only. For reals. So one month a year I have to go without cinnamony pita bread. Besides, I kind of feel like it's not my party. But I might get up the nerve this year. We shall see.

Okay, I just got my 15-minute-warning on my cell phone for my OA meeting. Is time to wrap up and head out. If you're ever in North Central Dallas, stop by this place and have all the pita bread you can get down. And try the appetizer platter; it's a great introduction to the kinds of food that are available here. Tell them Jen sent you. The white chick with the enormous... yeah.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Transcribe This

One of the things I do in my copious spare time is transcribe dharma talks for the hearing impaired, which also translates as, typing up Buddhist sermons for the deaf. If you wanna check out some of my handiwork, you can find it at the Awakening Heart Web site, and there's a link at the bottom of the page that says, "Audio and Video." My most recent stuff is Brother ChiSing's seven-week series on Deepak Chopra's "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success." Feel free to peruse the transcripts or better still, listen to the actual dharma talks. I like the transcribing and I think it's worthwhile, but it really doesn't come close to describing what actually goes on there, the audience response and so on. Let me put it this way; the audio version is a lot more fun. The transcription is just, you know, words.

I'm not really a member of Awakening Heart; more of a hanger-on. I do the transcribing and I show up for retreats and special events, but when it comes to the regular Sunday service I hardly ever get there. I'm not sure why that is, except that Sunday at 5 in the evening is kind of a lousy time to have a church service (at least if you're me). My OA gang has a monthly business meeting then and my writer's group meets twice a month right before that; and believe me, the last thing I feel like doing after being with my writer's group for two hours is sitting still and meditating. More like sitting still and typing my little fingers off fixing all the stuff that needs fixing and then plunging into the next couple of chapters. Which leaves about one Sunday a month to get down there, which is why I hardly ever show up.

Yes, I realize these are rather pathetic excuses. Hang on, they're about to get worse. I'm also not-exactly-a-member at the Maria Kannon Zen Center. I show up on the occasional Saturday and sit with everybody (Japanese Soto Zen is a whole lot of sitting meditation and not a whole lot else; sometimes afterward we all say hi to each other, but it was months before I even knew anybody else's name). I've never joined the Center or contributed the minimum monthly amount, though I do put some money in the box whenever I show up. If I had to pick a preferred meditation type, this would be it, because I go into shy mode quite often and not having to talk to anybody is kind of a nice bonus.

Now, here's the thing. Awakening Heart doesn't much care if you're a member, not-exactly-a-member, an occasional hanger-on, or if you just dropped in for the day. Everybody's pretty much invited and welcome once they show up. If there' s a Big Ceremony to join the group, I've never seen it (Buddhists are big on Big Ceremonies, but Brother ChiSing isn't). Maria Kannon, however, is another matter. Not only is there a Big Ceremony, but you have to apply to be a member, be approved by a committee, approach the teacher and ask to become his student, and then show up in front of the whole gang to be welcomed. Er, given that I have this inconvenient shy thing, let me explain to you how likely this is to ever happen. Yeah. About that likely. And so I've always wondered if I'm actually supposed to be there, or if I'm sneaking in like a thief, getting my fix o'quiet and stealing away into the night again (well, it's Saturday mornings, but stealing away into the daylight doesn't really have quite the same ring to it). Just because I scrub things doesn't mean I'm necessarily welcome, you know what I mean?

Finally, the big confession: I'm not even a Buddhist. That is, officially. There's a big ceremony about taking refuge in the Three Jewels, and I've never gone through it. I was going to, once, with Brother ChiSing, but something happened and he decided not to do the ceremony and I haven't had another opportunity since then. I'd still do it, tomorrow if somebody asked me to, but it's not like you can exactly get on the Internet and google "Who's doing the Three Jewels ceremony in Dallas this weekend" and pull up half a dozen hits. So I live like a Buddhist, I meditate like a Buddhist, I try to keep the Five Precepts like a Buddhist, and as far as I'm concerned I'm a Buddhist, but if I die tomorrow, will I still end up in Lutheran Heaven with a choir singing in four-part harmony and all you can eat lefsa and vinaterta that doesn't make you fat? Because that'd be cool, really, but, um, what about the whole wheel of samsara and coming back again and again until even the grass is enlightened? Cuz that's what I signed on for. Or would have signed on for. If somebody had given me somewhere to sign.

Okay, I have another dharma talk to transcribe. This one's about the Winter Solstice and the countdown to 2012, at which time either the world ends or the Rangers win the World Series. Later, kids.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Talk Thursday: Selective Patience

Oh great, I thought when the topic for this week's Talk Thursday came over the topic-o-meter (fixed! Thanks, Captain Tight Pants, for the spare parts!). A blog post on a virtue I do not possess. Actually, I must have said it out loud, because Joan, who was sitting right next to me with her laptop (a pair of laptops; it must be a marriage) said, "Oh, you do too. I've seen you bead."

She has a point. Anybody who spends large quantities of time
lining up row after row of eleven-to-the-inch tiny round glass
things and arranging them into patterns that not only make sense but are pretty darn nifty (if I may say so) definitely
qualifies as a person with patience. I'm patient about other things, too; I've been known to sit outside,
absolutely motionless, for long periods of time so that the external cats (shy little things, for all their ferocity) can sneak up on me, with their tails out and their paws primed for hasty departure, and give me a couple of exploratory sniffs. (Huh. A human. Interesting. Okay, back to the food.) I also meditate, which tends to involve sitting around, doing nothing and staring at the floor for at least twenty minutes or so at a time. I guess that requires patience. And there's always swimming, which requires nothing but patience; let's face it, you go back and forth in the same lane. The scenery never changes, unless you're doing an open water thing.

Why, then, if I'm blessed with loads of patience in situations like those, do I have none whatsoever in situations where it would be really frick'n nice to have a few drops? Like, say, today at lunchtime, when I was trying (and I do mean trying) to get from my doctor's office back to my office before, oh, say, 5:30. Okay, I exaggerate a tiny bit, but in all seriousness, I've never seen such a passel of things go wrong in such a small geographic area. From road construction to unfortunate light changes to guys deciding to stop in the dead center of my lane for no apparent reason and, I dunno, fish their cell phones out of the ashtray or something, it was like the entire world was blocking the way. In Buddhist parlance, the proper response to this would be to take a deep breath, chant something soothing and remember that everybody else on the road is experiencing his or her own private drama, and imagine that they're all late for the birth of their first child or on their way to a bar mitzvah or something like that. Do I actually do that, though? No. I seethe instead, which not only doesn't improve matters but also makes me drive like a wretched idiot. Just what Dallas needs, one more idiot driver. In case you did not know this, the drivers that are too bad for Los Angeles get imported here in batches.

Another situation in which I have no patience whatsoever is when I see a little guy getting picked on by a big guy. It doesn't matter what particular arrangement of big guy/little guy (cardboard box) we're talking about; I get equally impatient if we're dealing with a skinny little kid vs. the schoolyard bully, an auto accident victim vs. a Big Insurance Company, or a first-term Democratic representative vs. the powerful seven-term Republican head of the Finance Committee. It. Makes. Me. Crazy. I'm lucky I wasn't born a couple of hundred years ago or I'd have probably galloped around with a sword, getting into fights on behalf of this or that person until I finally tackled somebody bigger and meaner than me. Given the level of stupidity I sink to when I lose my temper, I can't imagine it would have taken very long.

Luckily, since becoming a Buddhist I don't lose my temper as often, I am a lot calmer and seething at other drivers is an exception rather than the rule. But lack of patience - that's an ongoing problem. I'm pretty sure I've actually said that prayer about "Lord, grant me patience and give it to me NOW!!" in so many words. And actually meant it, failing utterly to appreciate the irony. Another thing I lose when I'm out of all patience is my sense of irony. Which is a shame, because it's a darn fine sense of irony, if I may say so.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Talk Thursday: Simplicity, Autism, Mark Twain and Jenny McCarthy

Sometimes the Talk Thursday topic writes itself. Other times I make it up as I go. Still other times I get a topic that can be connected in some illogical but synchronistic* way to whatever's occupying the most space between my ears at the moment. And then, once in a while, I get something stuck in my head and it refuses to be dislodged, no matter what the Talk Thursday topic-a-roo happens to be. Then the challenge is to somehow work the topic into whatever that something is, instead of the other way around. Luckily I'm a double jointed acrobatic twister of words, or I'd be in big trouble.

What's stuck in my head today is a book I didn't particularly like, read during that time where you have to read lots of books you don't particularly like; high school. The book was Huckleberry Finn, and it was okay, I guess. Kid runs away from home, meets a runaway slave, they team up, much hilarity ensues, and it ends happily, kind of. It just didn't trip my trigger, if you know what I mean. I've read plenty of grand adventures and while I'll agree that this was one, I'd just put it firmly in the meh category as far as Books That Did It for Jen.

So you may be a little surprised to hear that I. Was. Furious. when I read about this. Short version, for those of you that don't click links: A new edition of the Mark Twain classic is being printed with the "n-word" removed. Yes, if I can't type it in my blog then I, too, must find it offensive. Not the point. I didn't write the book. Mark Twain did, and to start mucking around with his language is like asking Hamlet to come out onstage and say, "Dude, like, should I off myself or what?!" It was nineteenth century America, people. Nobody talked like we do now, nor should they. When they start saying, "Whither goest thou, yon cross-gartered varlet?" on "CSI," we can talk about that, okay? Okay.

Another thing: Mark Twain died quite a long time ago. His work has not changed much since then. The only time we need a "new" edition of anything Twain is when the "old" edition has been read to tatters and no longer holds up to backpacks, back pockets and being chucked irreverently into the back seats of beat up Volkswagons. What could possibly be simpler (Ha! Got it in there!) than just leaving well enough alone? We make things complicated, people. They actually start out very simple.

Which brings me to the subject of autism. (Bear with me, it'll make sense in a minute.) According to a small but vocal group of parents, helped in no small part by Jenny McCarthy, autism is caused by childhood vaccines. You know, those shots we got from the age of birth to approximately five to keep us safe from horrible lingering deaths by smallpox, diptheria, tetanus and other fun things that used to wipe out kids left and right. Apparently, a British doctor (who has since been stripped of his medical license, and is now facing criminal charges) falsified research on a group of children in his famous study that seemed to show how children "caught" autism from childhood vaccines. He's defending himself in the media, but his claims of a panglobal conspiracy on the part of the "vaccine industry" may not help him much in a court of law. His study is being called, among unkinder things, an "elaborate fraud." It's just kind of a shame it took the British medical journal that first published it thirteen years to retract it, because lots of parents panicked in the meantime and didn't have their kids vaccinated. A lot of childhood diseases that had basically been wiped out started making a comeback, and look, people, that sucks, okay? Nobody should have to come down with smallpox or German measles or whooping cough in this day and age. Certainly nobody should die. But kids have, and I dunno about you, but I'd rather have a live autistic child than a dead child. Especially if the dead child died of something that I could have prevented in about thirty seconds and for less than thirty bucks.

Look. Autism is scary. It takes a happy, normally developing two year old and turns him or her into a shy, withdrawn and sometimes flat-out antisocial two-year-old that stops learning words, wants nothing to do with other people and engages in odd, sometimes self-harming repetitive behaviors. Autistic kids are looking at a lifetime of therapy, and may or may not be able to lead independent lives someday. Nobody knows what really causes autism, and that's even scarier. Small wonder that when somebody pointed to a suspected cause, everybody went bananas. We need bad guys in situations like this. We can't just blame nobody and nothing; it's flat-out unAmerican. UnBritish. Whatever.

But here's the thing. Sometimes demanding answers gets us into much more trouble than simply (Ha! Got it in there again!) accepting the situation. Disclaimer: No, I do not have an autistic child. No, I cannot possibly know what it's like to have to live with this issue day after day. But I do know that in finding someone or something to blame, it's easy to slip into a state of inaction. If so and so is responsible, then I'm absolved of the need to do anything to better the situation. After all, it's not my fault, it's the fault of X. Therefore X should fix it, even if X is an inanimate object that can't possibly contribute to a solution even if there were a solution to be had. That kind of mentality doesn't benefit anybody.

If I were Mark Twain, and I had an autistic child (come on, it's not that much of a stretch), I wouldn't be worried that somebody might someday be offended that I used the "n-word" in my classic American picaresque about life on the Mississippi. I also wouldn't worry about finding out who was to blame for my child's autism so I could sue their pants off, if they had pants, or ban the daylights out of them, if they had daylights. I'd only be worried about writing enough and publishing enough to make a decent enough living that I could afford good therapy for my autistic child, and keeping my family together, no matter what.

P.S. Mark Twain lost his favorite daughter Susy to spinal meningitis when she was just twenty-four.

*Check out the seminal 1982 album by The Police.