“She dodges the light like Blanche DuBois.”
The award-winning Turbulent Indigo album was released in 1994. I’ve studied and worshipped every note and chord, every nuanced word of musical poetry for twenty years. I’ve performed Sunny Sunday, accompanying myself on guitar. I’m proficient, but humble — it’s technically-challenging. I know I’m no Joni Mitchell, except in my dreams. Only Joni is Joni. (link is to video of her appearance and performance on a BBCTV show in 1994 after the album’s release.)
In music I’m fond of long intros, likewise in my writing. But here it’s a nasty habit called ‘burying the lead’. I’ve tried over decades to change this . Really, I have. Thanks for your patience, gentle reader. I see I’ve done it again. Don’t panic. Here, take a shovel.
SO, why this song now? I love Sunny Sunday because it speaks to the tiny introvert buried within my otherwise extroverted self. She rarely speaks up, poor thing, and the light of sunny days hurts her eyes. Introverts need love too, even when they’re only aspects of the whole. Today I celebrate my introvert and yours.
During the WWII era Katherine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers began developing what is now the oft-used type inventory (MBTI) , using their own research based on the personality theories of Carl Gustav Jung. Their belief was that clearer understanding of ‘personality types’ would be of great practical value in the booming workforce. Based on our ‘type’, we have preferences for experiencing the world around us, our relationships, our education and work. Our individual preferences lie at the root of all our interests, needs, values and motivations. (more on the MBTI here)
I first took the MBTI in 1969 as part of my ongoing (still today) study of human behavior and me. My head was stuffed with questions from a young age: Who am I? Why am I like I am? Why are you like you are? What made me different from my younger sisters, friends and parents? Life on The Happy Planet was often perplexing to me. I hated not knowing the answers, or at least some answers. So much puzzled me. I longed to have another person inside my consciousness so that I didn’t have to feel alone in the galactic expanse of my ‘inner life’. I wanted an Inner Life Detector, some sort of 23rd Century tricorder that I could point at people and just know. I needed to see the ineffable magic that didn’t show on the faces of those closest to me. Did they feel this way too? Did they have similar questions. Did they have an ‘inner life’?
The Myer-Briggs inventory armed me with information that quieted some of the incessant questions. I am, as I was then with subtle variations, an ENFP (Extraversion, Intuition, Feeling, Perception) For the sake of today’s meanderings it’s the E that often confuses even me. I forget that while I derive energy and great joy from my relationships and interactions with other people — in a big way, since my inventory usually shows me at the high end of the extraversion spectrum — I can run completely dry. Tapped out. Irritated by the very community of others that gives my life meaning and purpose. At those times I first withdraw emotionally. Then I go out less. I don’t want contact. I want a quiet inner and outer space where I can recharge, a bit like Thoreau fleeing the city for the serenity of Walden Pond. So not me, I protest. But it is.
Reclusiveness only works for me for awhile, and I can’t imagine a lifetime of it. I love people and the exchange of energy that happens too much to stay locked away. It’s a palpable thing. Unless of course there’s buttheadery going on, but that’s yet another story. I see that detour, but I’ll save it for another day.
In the last couple of weeks the me that revels in affinity with others took a breather. Even big bold extraverts have introvert needs. It’s taken me decades to get comfortable with that, most likely due to often hearing as a child how I was terribly moody, and your-face-will-freeze-that-way-young-lady. T’ain’t so. I’m no Blanche DuBois, and between you and me, I don’t think she was satisfied with her life, even with all those lovely negligées.
If you’d like to play with a Jungian/Myers-Briggs typology inventory, you can find one here . The version used by human resource, sociology and psychology professionals is more than five hundred questions, and not necessary to get a first look at the ways you in which you ‘see and be’ on our Happy Planet.
Thanks for ambling along with me. Be kind to your yourself. I see you in there.
All images used in this blog are created in the virtual world, Second Life, unless otherwise mentioned.
Dear Mother Maya,
On the day that you passed onward my insides welled-up,
and fountained out from the top of my head.
A sorrow mingled with joy. They ran soft wet ribbons to my toes,
a pond of absinthe-colored peace.
Out, out went the waters — pond, then lake, then a limbic ocean —
my world inundated.
The Happy Planet sprouted wings. We flew away.
I heard you whisper a duet with the cosmic wind,
a buttery vocalese mussed my hair.
Humming along, I reached for a palette of pixels
and painted love for you.
Thank you for sharing your heart with me, Mother.
Thank you for being.
I love you,
Part one in a four-part series dedicated to the poet mother of my heart and soul, Maya Angelou
(All images created in the virtual world, Second Life, unless otherwise stated