Talking to Myself

portrait 6…In which Dave the Introvert and Dave the Extrovert debate who he is, what he’s meant to do, and where he belongs. Perhaps, as a good friend suggests, it’s a process of elimination?

Dave the Introvert: OK Mr. Love-Conversation-and-Community-are-Everything, let me get this straight: You, the guy who doesn’t like most people very much (you clearly prefer the company of animals), you, the guy who is not very good at loving, or conversation, or community (they are conspicuously absent from your who-you-are and what-you’re-meant-to-do three-circle charts), you are going to (a) start an Intentional Community, with all the persuasion and selling (which you hate) to get members, all the messy emotional negotiation and organization (which you’re inept at), all the compromise (tough for an idealist like you), and then (b) create this think-tank-thing you call AHA!, with more persuasion and selling (to get members and clients), all the organization (which you have no patience for), all the facilitation (which you have neither talent nor passion for), and all the stress (remember your nerve-wracking innovation consulting career?) that you can’t handle. What in the world are you thinking?

portrait ADave the Extrovert: I suppose you would have me spending my life in solitude, in a yurt somewhere, writing. Tried that, you know. In the first place, I’m not good enough at it, especially in the fiction marketplace. Talk about stress and suffering! And how many times have I started my novel The Only Life We Know, only to shred it and start again, and again? And you know how, after just a few hours of solitude, I start to crave intelligent conversation again. Remember, the who-you-are circle is titled “Who You (Would) Love Being”. I may not be a great conversationalist, or great at loving people, or great at creating community, but I love all of these things. Of course I’d prefer someone else to establish the Intentional Community and AHA!, and just invite me to play the role in both of them that I’d do best. But we know that’s not going to happen — this is all Too Far Ahead. Someone has to take responsibility, someone has to start, to be the catalyst. Attract the right people, and soon they can take over the organization and selling and the other stuff I don’t want to do.

Dave the Introvert: You know you have neither the talent nor the stamina to be the heart and soul behind an IC or your AHA! centre. You keep coming up with these ideas, but they’re stillborn. You get comfort from them as ideals, but you’d never dare really try to make them work because you know you couldn’t. Fear of failure, man. You know that, like Pohangina Pete described, as soon as you get an idea you already start to think about, and understand, why it wouldn’t work. Listen to your instincts. Time to get real and move on.

Dave the Extrovert: Move on to what? Things are the way they are for a reason. If my Sweet Spot isn’t imagining possibilities, in AHA! or writing fiction, and isn’t being a model in an IC, or creating a model for Natural Enterprises in non-fiction, then it doesn’t exist.

Dave the Introvert: Your problem is you mistake what the world needs, from someone, with your Purpose. You say that one’s Purpose is what is needed that you care about. And perhaps the world needs models of ICs and Natural Enterprises, though I doubt the world is ready for them. And if they are, then you might have the prescription for them, but you’re not the one to implement. You hate the details of implementation, they bore you. And you’re no good at them. And your prescriptions, clever as they are, are just ideas. Hollow. Dime a dozen.

Dave the Extrovert: Your problem is you’re a defeatist. You’re the one who’s afraid to try. It’s easier for you to rationalize inaction, just going on doing what you’re doing. Your small, faithful, patient blog audience deserves more of you. You want to stop feeling like you’re letting people down? Then do something hard, bold, and stick with it until it works, so no one is let down. What have you got to lose? If you discover that wasn’t the Sweet Spot for you, then pick yourself up and find out what is. And while you’re at it, write the damn novel, keep at it until it’s done, or realize that it’s another lame idea, take it off the list, and try something else. You’re running out of time.

Dave the Introvert: And what if I find out, we find out, that none of our Gifts, our Passions and our Purpose overlap, that for us there is no Sweet Spot? How are we going to feel if we realize that what we’re good at has no Purpose? That what we love doing has no Purpose?

Dave the Extrovert: Always the dramatist! Maybe our Gifts and Passions have no Purpose yet — that’s the quandary of being Too Far Ahead. You can’t make people want or need what they aren’t ready for. In the meantime we have to be pragmatic — maybe spend 1/3 of our time doing something we’re good at that’s needed that we don’t really love doing (e.g. helping Natural Enterprises), and 1/3 of our time doing something we’re not that good at, that’s needed, that we really love doing (and work to get better at it, e.g. conversational skills). And then 1/3 of our time doing something we love doing, whether it’s appreciated or not — fun stuff (e.g. writing). That’s not so bad, if you can suppress your insufferable idealism.

.     .     .     .     .

Perhaps Dave the Introvert and Dave the Extrovert both think too much. There is much wisdom in my friend Siona‘s advice…to just be myself:

To me it seems that there really is only one requirement (for you to be fully yourself) and that the authentic realization of this can’t help but embrace what you’re good at (no one is going to be better at being you than you are) as well as what you love (what other joy would there be than to truly be your own genuine self?). It’s hard for me, frankly, to pull those three rings apartóI want to be nobody but myself; it’s what I do best; it’s what’s required of me; it’s what I love doingóbut then I don’t really feel the need to. I think Mariella makes a beautiful point, too. I could no more distill an essence, or even a constellation of uniquely defining characteristics, than I could count the drops in the ocean. Who I am (what I’m being) changes from moment to moment to moment, and watching and accepting that constant change, the birthing and dying of emotions and thoughts and sensations, is part of the joy of beingness itself. This impermanence is affected by and interconnected with all those beings around me, and allowing myself to rest comfortably with these shifts affords them a similar freedom. A question, if you have the time, and if you’d like to indulgeme: If you felt at home in the world, what would you do next?

I love Siona’s final question. How would you answer it?

I asked Patti the other day: What do you most need yourself to be? How would you answer that?

Enough of this. Tomorrow, something completely different.

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8 Responses to Talking to Myself

  1. Mariella says:

    If you felt at home in the world, what would you do next?….If I felt at home in existance…as a part of the “everything system” … maybe i´ll feel free to die…… maybe what underlies this being or not being occidental dilema is our total denial of death.

  2. Mariella says:

    … maybe this fear could change if we get to see and feel death as an active process too…

  3. Jon Husband says:

    … and 6 moths or so ago you took a job too, right ? One in which you felt you could make a considerable positive difference to the world, right ?Maybe you “should” concentrate your (very) considerable skills there, and spend the rest of your time enjoying yourself as much as you can, doing whatever is most accessible to / easiest for you to do (according to your prescriptions about how people behave).The world’s gonna do what it’s gonna do anyway.

  4. John Graham says:

    “If you felt at home in the world, what would you do next?”Last weekend we did the good-ol’ trust exercise where you shut your eyes and walk around the room, letting someone else do the steering (I nearly typed ‘staring’-better). It was like walking on air.I’d do that.

  5. John Graham says:

    “What do you most need yourself to be?”My spontaneous response was a line from Alanis Morisette, “That I would be good” – a need that at the petty level has had me trapped in a world of judgement of good and bad for a long, long.Pushed further, though, that tendency deepens into the fuller need: “that I would be good even if I did nothingthat I would be good even if I got the thumbs downthat I would be good if I got and stayed sickthat I would be good even if I gained ten poundsthat I would be fine even if I went bankruptthat I would be good if I lost my hair and my youththat I would be great if I was no longer queenthat I would be grand if I was not all knowingthat I would be loved even when I numb myselfthat I would be good even when I am overwhelmedthat I would be loved even when I was fumingthat I would be good even if I was clingythat I would be good even if I lost sanitythat I would be goodwhether with or without you”

  6. Watch out, it sounded like the Introvert was winning the arguments. ;-) Then again, introverts tend to be better with arguments.Being half-introvert, half-extrovert myself, I recognize that kind of arguments. Yes, of course the answer is to just be oneself, but that’s easier said than done.If I felt at home in the world, what would I do next? Hm, I guess I would be more still, pay more attention, do what is there to do right now. I’d both pay more attention to what I really feel, and what is there around me. As opposed to being stuck in the mental stuff in-between.

  7. Siona says:

    This dialogue was wonderful, and thank you so much for reposting that wonderment I’d left. (Like you and Flemming, I’m a bit of an ambivert as well; my people-loving and self-sustaining natures depend on each other and I’m not sure I could tease them out.)And I feel lucky. I do feel at home in the world. This wee globe is a wonderful place to be.

  8. Dave Pollard says:

    Interesting discussion here — thank you. Nice to see some unintermediated conversation between commenters over the last few days here! Flemming, Introverts are, I think, better intellectual debaters, while Extoverts are better emotional debaters — who’s more effective depends on the audience :-) When it’s an internal debate, it tends to depend on how tired (or drunk) you are…

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