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Zen Master* Bear** Speaks***

Introducing Zen Master Bear

I have long been known on social media by the handle rundembear, a playful joining of my obsession with bears with Run Dem Crew, the name of the urban running crew of which I am proud to be a member.

Runners love to talk about running, which suits my autistic personally very well. It is way easier to socialize when I can talk to people about something which is one of my special interests. As I have become more experienced as a runner, and have gained confidence in people enjoying my unique perspective on things, I have gotten more opportunities to talk with people at great length about running. I suspect most autistic people will appreciate how lucky I am to have a whole circle of people happy to talk to me about one of my passions.

A few years ago I overheard one of my friends tell someone else in Run Dem Crew that I always offered the most zen advice. I was pleased. Since then I have played around with the alter ego of Zen Master Bear. People seem to appreciate the wisdom of Zen Master Bear, and there are rumours that he might even be writing a book. Somewhere along the way I adopted the, admittedly idiosyncratic, habit of ending Zen Master Bear’s views on things by saying “Zen Master Bear has spoken.” People seemed to be okay with this, so I kept doing it.

To be clear, I am not actually a Zen Master. Or even a Zen Novice. I did consult with a friend who is a Zen Master, and he assured me that there was nothing offensive in my using the term in this loose manner. He seemed somewhat bemused by the very idea of Zen Masters being anything other than amused by such a thing. I mean absolutely no disrespect.

Those of you who know me know that I am not actually a bear either. I have on occasion thought of self-identifying as ursine, but fear that there could be negative consequences of such a choice; such as ending up in a zoo. Or hunted.

I am, however, actually autistic. For those of you who don’t know, the hash tag #actuallyautistic is often used by autistic people when we are speaking about autism on social media. This is to distinguish our observations from the views of the many neurotypicals who take it upon themselves to speak on behalf of the autistic community. Sadly, many of these people have problematic agendas and really have no business speaking for us.

The name of the blog really grew out of my usage of “Zen Master Bear has spoken” and wasn’t intended to be provocative through evocation of the name of a certain organisation with horrifying views about autism. I’m not willing to let them speak for me, nor am I willing to let them tarnish my chosen blog name.

For those who might wonder about such things, yes the usage of footnotes in my tag line is meant to be an homage to David Foster Wallace. I don’t think he was one of us, but he definitely saw things with a unique clarity which my brain finds appealing. I highly recommend Infinite Jest, although I do recommend reading it in physical book form as you really need two book marks so you can keep flipping back and forth between the main narrative and the footnotes.

I’m excited to see Zen Master Bear stepping out of the shadows and into his very own spotlight. I hope you grow to like him. I anticipate him having many adventures because, to paraphrase Paddington Bear, he is that sort of bear.

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