Monday, September 13, 2010

Thermal Introversion

I am an introvert.
That may seem a bit odd coming from someone who blogs regularly, who performs on stage in various capacities, and who is among the most emotionally honest people you'll know.
But I am. I've known this much all along: I prefer to take my time, to ponder stakes, to meditate on things, to let them impact me and then to disgest the effects and repercussions. I usually need to do this alone. There are times when the company of people is not just irritating, it's downright repulsive, because it distracts me from things I deem more important.
In American society, this makes me an outcast of a sort, but I take heart (and you should too, if you're an introvert and reading this): I am not alone, ironically.
I'm not claiming some aggrieved status or oppression. The nature of American society is to reward the huckster, the squeaky wheel and the brassy extravert. A perusal of American history shows that the introvert usually takes a back seat to the outgoing, glad-handing "self-assured" extravert. That's just the nature of the beast we've created. Whether he or she is a phony or not is pointless. The fact is, that person is going to absorb the lion's share of the attention in any large group of people. Why else do you think Lady Gaga could get away with wearing a meat dress?
Finally, tho, comes an article that justifies me. My life is not about passivity. It's about reflection. My life is not somehow diminished because I don't jump into the first available vacuum. My life is enhanced because I spend my days watching the world and making the connections that social interactions create. If I act, it's because I understand a situation and can influence. If I speak, it's because I feel I have an unique knowledge or perspective that can benefit someone. 
It's why I blog, in fact. I blog, not to spite my introversion, but because of it. 
I act to spite my introversion, but that's a different story. That's about communication to a wider audience. When I blog, I feel like I'm holding a conversation with you, the individual reader. This is a point that I can focus on. It's not distracting to me and I know I have some large share of your attention. Some might say it's controlling, but dialogue is why I welcome comments on my pieces.
In a burst of irony, I get embarrassed when someone compliments my work, say my photography. I put it out there as an expression of my inner life and while I enjoy the feedback, positive and negative, I lose sight of the fact that it's still something very personal of mine, that it comes from deep inside me, and reflects emotional content that perhaps at this point in my life, I regret a little having shared.
In a few weeks, I suspect someone will refer back to this piece and I'll have a twinge of guilt over having bothered their day with my indulgence.
In another bit of irony, I'm happiest when I'm not looking for happiness as we define it: to be rich, to have a nice house, to have good friends and plenty of them, to advance ourselves in society. I may have accidentally stumbled onto many of those things, but they don't make me happy. But put me on my bicycle at 4:30 in the morning, and to see something like this will make me happy, something few people bothered to get up that early to see.
Of course, I'm also liberal, which makes my intellect formidable...I need to ponder why I'm a liberal, when liberalism is clearly extraversion.