You Can Do It Too

An Interview with David Patten, Author, Dummy: A Memoir

David Paton was born in 1954 with Autism. Little was known in 1954 about Autism, what it looked like and even how it was diagnosed. Because of this lack of knowledge, David was labeled stupid, lazy and even a trouble maker. He spent time in a mental institution, attempted suicide at 14, and fell into the neglected hopeless world of drug dealing. He became a virtual prisoner in an experimental psychiatric home. But it was his 15 years in a spiritual community that gave him the identity of who he really was meant to be.

Question (SFP) Stories Faces Places: What kind of impact did labels have upon your life and who you were?

David: My Mom tried very hard for this not to happen. I knew I was different, feeling I had come from another planet. I felt everything strongly because I did not possess the filters necessary to shut it off. I felt alienated.  But it was those feelings that forced me to ask myself the question, what are these circumstances in my life telling me about the person I should be? Nevertheless it was very painful.

SFP: This process seems like it may have led you to an identification of your gifts?

David: Yes. But it was a process that forced me to surrender my life in a way, to face the truth about who I really was, accepting all of my liabilities. And through this process of examination my relationship to my life and who I thought I was shifted. I found that all my continued suffering was being generated by falsely identifying with one thing or another. When I stopped identifying with these others, the burden of who I really was come to being. I stopped dragging myself down. It was a painful process, but life began to happen.

SFP: What are they?

David: One of my greatest gifts was that of not knowing what to expect in any situation.  It meant not making any assumptions, because I knew nothing. This gave me the freedom to be wrong, and the capacity to listen to see if I could understand what was really being said.

SFP: One of your gifts mentioned in the book is  that you are a genius in abstract mathematics, and you had a very successful business career debugging computer systems for major corporations and American military installations?

David: Yes, that was a great gift, but one that helped me the most was my lack of knowing anything, and being able to listen to what was being said. That gift gave me the ability to solve the problems.

SFP: What really matters to you?

David: Devotion to the truth. This is different from the truth. I don’t believe the truth with a capital “T” can be known by human beings.

SFP: What do you want people to take away from reading this book?

David: I would like people to use my stories as a template that they may apply to their life in solving their problems and overcoming their obstacles.

SFP: How do you live your life?

David: Life lives me. I just try to get in its way.

David Patton’s book Dummy can be purchased here by clicking the pictures you will go to Amazon.