It's not in any way his 'fault'. It's just the way things are for a person on the autism spectrum. Something about the regular rhythm and repetitive sequence of events is calming and helps Ian function more peacefully and joyfully.
Not unlike most of us, really.
One of Ian's long-time habits is to listen to music as he falls asleep. In his earliest years, it was the Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky (full ballet) that was the gateway to his dreamland. But for more than a decade now, Ian has been lulled gently to sleep each night by a mix i made for him, first on a CD and then on his iPod, simply entitled 'Quiet Genesis'.
Starting with their second album from 1970 ('Trespass' - written and recorded before any of the band members had turned 20), i chose all the songs that are acoustically based and quieter in nature from their catalogue over the years. i tagged on some other tunes in a similar vein from the solo canons of Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins to fill out the set.
Ian LOVES it. His bedtime routine is not complete without it.
It really is a lovely mix, if i do say so myself.
Ian doesn't just listen to the mix at bedtime, though. Sometimes, he will bring it out during the day just to enjoy the beauty of it. And i've noticed over the years that there are certain songs on the mix that elicit a more demonstrative response from him.
Two that come to mind are placed subsequently in the mix: 'Cuckoo Cocoon' and 'Entangled'.
The first features Gabriel on vocals (from his last album with the band, 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway'), and describes the feeling of being trapped in a place in life that is very restrictive, even claustrophobic, but also comfortable, secure, safe.
A small, stunning portrait of peace and protection from the outside world.
Besides being a gorgeous little gem of musical mastery, i wonder what draws Ian to the song so powerfully. Does it help him relax into the comfort of the little 'cocoon' of sheets and blankets and stuffed animals that he descends into each night? Is it a depiction of the the protection and peace he feels when he's free to be in his own 'world' where his senses aren't constantly overloaded, safe inside the 'bubble' that autism sometimes provides for him?
Well, whatever it is that appeals to him so strongly in that song is merely a segue into the second song.
'Entangled' is in the same musical key as 'Cuckoo', almost like the two songs were meant to go together in sequence. It is sung by Collins (from the first album featuring him as lead vocalist of the band, 'A Trick of the Tail'), and takes the listener on a journey into the subconscious (whilst making some observations about those who are paid to lead people there professionally). The music is slow and dream-like, in a gentle, flowing 6/8 time. The melodies are mysterious and magnificent, the harmonies hypnotic and heavenly. It's one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs i have ever heard.
For most of my life, it was simply the music of this song that swept me away and took me to a place so emotionally poignant and powerful, the tears leapt from my eyes like they had been waiting from the foundations of my life for just the right time to do so. And i assumed that the song had a somewhat similar impact on Ian, seeing as whenever he would play it during the day, he would flash a knowing smile of recognition and celebration. No victory dance. Just Grin Jim.
But just this morning, as he was listening to the song in our living room, i just stopped what i was doing to listen to the song - the music AND lyrics - and watch Ian's face and body as the song played. And the moment became a revelation for me.
A storm had suddenly burst outside, with the skies thundering and lightning and pouring tears of rain from heaven. And inside, this beautiful, peaceful music was playing...guitars of various tunings and stringings, a ghostly, yet angelic choir gently appearing (courtesy of a mellotron keyboard), close, multiple vocal harmonies swirling above it all...and i was struck by the sight of a torrential downpour and by the title of the piece...and this phrase of lyrics...
Sentenced to drift far away now
Nothing is quite what it seems
Sometimes entangled in your own dreams
And here was my beautiful boy, with so much within himself mysteriously 'entangled' - neurologically, cognitively, psychologically - and his face is radiantly reflecting a peaceful, joy-filled calm, a Love that stills storms around us and within us, and embraces us in all our entangledness.
And here i sat, with so much swirling and storming through my head and heart, the realities crashing into the reveries, the daily duties entangled with the distant dreams, slowly drifting far away into that 'bubble' of depression that for me is too familiar a 'friend' and too constricting a 'cocoon'...an engulfed, entangled entity.
And once again, my boy - the one who has far more reason to be entrapped in entanglement - is grinning, giggling, even glowing as he glances out the window at the Rain rapping on the windows and the Wind whipping through the trees.
A small, stunning portrait of peace and participation with the outside world.
Engagement in the midst of entanglement in his inside world.
A reality revealing itself to the contradiction of circumstances, the antithesis of appearances.
Truly, in this moment...and most...NOTHING is QUITE what it seems.
'Glancing, Grinning, Glowing Jim' :)
('Entangled' by Genesis, from the album 'A Trick of the Tail', 1976)
('Cuckoo Cocoon' by Genesis, from the album 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway', 1974)
'Quiet Genesis Mix'
'Dusk' (from 'Trespass', 1970)
'For Absent Friends' (from 'Nursery Cryme', 1971)
'Harlequin' (from 'Nursery Cryme', 1971)
'Horizons' (from 'Foxtrot', 1972)
'More Fool Me' (from 'Selling England by the Pound', 1973)
'Cuckoo Cocoon' (from 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway', 1974)
'Entangled' (from 'A Trick of the Tail', 1976)
'Blood on the Rooftops' (from 'Wind & Wuthering', 1976)
'Your Own Special Way' (live acoustic version with string orchestra, Sydney Opera House, 1986; originally on 'Wind & Wuthering')
'Vancouver' (outtake from '...And Then There Were Three', 1978)
'Open Door' (outtake from 'Duke', 1980)
'Father, Son' (P. Gabriel, from 'Ovo', 2001)
'Fourteen Black Paintings' (P. Gabriel, from 'Us', 1992)
'The Drop' (P. Gabriel, from 'Up', 2002)
'Here Comes the Flood' (P. Gabriel, live on BBC, 1986; originally on 'Peter Gabriel (i)', 1977)
'You Know What I Mean' (P. Collins, from 'Face Value', 1981)
'Why Can't It Wait 'Til Morning?' (P. Collins, from 'Hello, I Must Be Going!', 1982)