Introvert Paradise

I shouldn’t tell you this, you might get the wrong idea and suddenly rush out to hug all the introverts you know, just don’t do that. We are a prickly bunch at the best of the time. grouphugBut I will tell you a well-kept secret; even Introverts need human contact. Yes, there I said it, now don’t go running out and telling everyone you know to bother their introverted friends and family randomly.

Most introverts, unless they are at the far end of the spectrum, have learned to live in a society that expects their involvement. Some of us have even worked in careers where our participation is required and rewarded. Some of us have learned to engage; we have become Omniverts to survive a world that does not prize our nature and would ultimately savage us. From experience, I can tell you some of use learned so well we fooled even those closest to us into believing we were something we were not.

So now to this forced isolation, this pandemic of global proportions. Fear and loathing of strangers and friends thrust us into our homes and our small private worlds. They said, shelter in place, stay where we are, do not venture outside except for essentials. Initially, this was an Introvert’s Paradise! No more crowded spaces, no more strangers talking to us in lines, no more requests from friends for group hugs out to restaurants and bars; Paradise! No more excuses for why it was impossible. No more making nice with strangers. No more sitting in silence and sometimes tears pulling all the pieces of me back in place after to big of a crowd pulled me apart.

Have you guessed I am talking about myself?

LVal_2010Of course, I am. Don’t misunderstand me; I love my friends and my family. I love seeing them in small doses. The problem is I don’t make friends easily; I don’t trust easily; thus, I have a very small circle I call a friend. Most of my friends do not live anywhere near me, maybe this intentional I have never really considered this possibility. I think I am the only truly single one among us, the only one that lives entirely alone. Yes, this is my choice. I suppose if I made different choices in romantic partners along the way, I could by now have someone in my home, in my bed and my life; I did not do that. So I sit this morning four weeks into self-isolation and wonder if this is Paradise.

I am most fortunate. I am still working; nothing is changed for now as I have worked remotely for two years. During the workday, I must put on my virtual work clothes and take meetings, direct activities and perform tasks. This creates normalcy in the day though I have noticed for those who are not use to being remote; they call more and schedule more meetings just to have someone to talk too, I think. For me though, this is not human interaction; instead, it is just my work life and does not fill holes in my spirit.

Yes, the quiet is soothing.  I understand everyone is dealing with isolation differently. I read troubling accounts of domestic violence rising across the nation, against partners womaninjarand children as people are thrown together with their families and cannot find a peaceful coexistence. Yet I think to myself when I was young, we did it on family vacations locked in cars for days or in my case on 27 ft boats. Was it always peaceful? No, hell, we sometimes fought like mortal enemies, but we didn’t kill each other. It was on these holidays I learned to escape into my mind for peace.

So what is wrong with me? What is it I am missing in my Introvert’s Paradise?

I am missing contact, human interaction with people I love and trust. I am missing presence filling space. I am missing feeling and knowing I matter to someone else in the world, that I am of value and my existence matters. I am missing laughter, touch, conversation and the simple acts of kindness and generosity we each do without thinking when we engage in relationships with each other. I am missing humanity at its best which is what friendships are, even when we don’t recognize them or realize we do them or receive them. Our relationships are fragile, and yet we hold them tightly; this is true whether they are friends or lovers. Introverts always struggle with boundaries, how to create them without pushing those we care for too far away. I am guilty of building walls too high and too impenetrable, I know it but don’t know how to stop.

Paradise has a dark side. For those of us who greeted this terrible time as the chance to wrap ourselves in silence and aloneness, maybe we are learning some good things come with a price. I know this will not change my nature, but it will perhaps help me open up more with my friends. As I look down the road to another month, maybe two months of isolation I wonder if my spirit will survive just how alone I am.

There is a Portuguese expression that so spoke to my spirit I tattoed it under my heart:

Saudade

Presence of Absence

Partisan Pandemic

Ladies and gentlemen, what we have is a partisan pandemic. Yes, indeed we have sunk Soapbox Logoso low, so far we are no longer Americans, rising together to defeat the enemy that is this terrible virus. Instead, we remain firmly in our corners, pointing fingers, blaming the other side, and even laughing as our fellow Americans sicken and die so long as it is not us but them. Our Commander in Chief feeds this partisanship, demanding the Governors’ play nice’ or he won’t assist in this time of great need, downplaying the crisis despite what we hear from those who see it first-hand.

Just the top of the list as of Friday, 27 March 2020:

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Many of our medical professionals tell us the numbers of confirmed would be far higher if testing were readily available, but as of today, it is not. What does that say about the greatest nation in the world?

How afraid should we be?  Very afraid, in my opinion. We have a Commander in Chief who is incapable of command, unqualified to lead under the best of circumstances. In these circumstances, his ego, his narcissism, and his myopic view of the world have led us to the point we are today.  This man, who demands personal loyalty ahead of the nation, who requires praise before the truth would see tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands die to gain re-election to an office he has proven time and again he is unfit to fill. Worse, the sycophants surrounding him continue to promote his lies and feed the unwitting and willing public to believe all is well in La-La Land, even while their family and friends die around them.

Make America Great Again, sure, let’s do that. My question, by whose measurement and exactly when are we looking in history for that “Again”? I am not saying we have ever been ‘Great’ for all of our citizens; admittedly, we have not been. But every single decade detroit-segregation-1942saw us make improvements. Some were huge and established a standard for generations to strive toward. Others were small, barely felt by most, and yet they moved us forward incrementally. Of course, we also had enormous missteps, terrible acts of brutality against entire people, against classes of people; humans can sink low when fear and greed rise and take over. Even worse, when either of these base emotions was stoked by religious or national outrage, we acted in concert to exact retribution or maintain our unearned preeminence.

So now we come with our ringmaster, our television game show host whose claim to fame is the infamous words, “You’re Fired.” He stands at the podium every day claiming knowledge he doesn’t have, attacking Governors who disagree, misstating facts and giving himself high marks for his handling of a pandemic; meanwhile, Americans die, and our health systems are overburdened. Medical providers being forced to make plans for who will receive treatment and who will receive end of life comfort.

This is Trump’s Great Again America.

Meanwhile, with his ego flying high, he continues to give himself the benefit of the doubt while he publically shreds Governors who dare to question his performance. He has denied aid; he has questioned their veracity; he has ordered his VP to not speak to those who do not praise him. In his own words:

trumppodium

“I think they should be appreciative. Because you know what? When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps [of Engineers], they’re not appreciative to FEMA. It’s not right.”

President Donald J. Trump, 27 March 2020 Press Briefing

On the President’s Hit List recently? Jay Inslee of Washington and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, both Democrats and both facing crises in their states. Cuomo of New York goes on and off the list depending on the day, sometimes thanking the President for his assistance and other times offending his sense of majesty and expectation of admiration. This President is quick to lash out at those who do not bend the knee. This President demands obeisance before he will do his job, not more than his job, not above and beyond the call of duty, none of that; just his damn job as President of the United States of America, Red and Blue and all the colors in between.

We are in crisis. Every single day our numbers rise, of sick and dying citizens of this land. Every single day rather than bringing us together the President tears us further dividednationapart. With only one exception, never has this nation been so divided by politics during a crisis. With only one exception, the Civil War has this nation faced a disaster of this magnitude without coming together, solving problems together and seeing each other as kindred spirits and fellow citizens. Today, we are further apart than ever with the tearing of the fabric spearheaded by the man at the top. Witness his actions of Friday when signing the most recent bi-partisan Bill to support America, not one Democrat was invited to that signing, though without them that Bill would not have been on the Resolute Desk for his signature.

The Partisan Pandemic hit the United States with force and is shredding this nation so that we will be unrecognizable if we do not stand up and stop the madness. If we, as a people don’t see ourselves for who we are and begin to take back our nation from the madman and his sycophants, we will lose ourselves forever. His ruthless pursuit of power at any cost will be the end of America, forever. When this Pandemic ends and it will, we will be something entirely different and he will be in charge without even the light reins that have held him back till now.

Is this the America you want?

 

New Day Greeting

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I swung the door wide open on the new morning

The sun breaking over skies blushing with dawn

Scents of  peony and lavender wafted in

Along the pathway, hope and strange silence

This is the new day and new world greeting

 

Each home darkened, streets quite

Early despair as fear grips neighborhoods

Blustering demands come I am invincible

Turn into save me, I am afraid and forsworn

This is the new day and new world greeting

 

Riverways and oceans are clearing without help

Dolphins dance once more in Venice

The skies clear over all the nations, birds sing

Flowers bloom in gardens, bees and butterflies come

This is the new day and new world greeting

 

Perhaps it is simply a moment, a pause

This distancing we must enact to heal ourselves

Isolated from all that comforted and defined

Stopped from all that we thought made us

Finally shown our humanity as one

This is the new day and new world greeting

 

This will end, not quickly I think but end

We will all swing our doors wide on a new day

Some will be changed, found compassion and joy

Others will simply demand recompense

We will all have lost someone dear by the end

As a world we will grieve together in our pain

This will be a new day and new world greeting

 

What we do when we swing those doors open

How we reach across the street, the world

How we greet our neighbors, stranger or friend

This will define us, will we survive this new world

Will this new world survive us and our new day

I have hope, even today I have hope

Signature

25-Mar-2020

Love in a Pandemic

caution-symbol-safety-sign-500x500A friend asked me the other day what they should do now that everything was locked down, there was no gathering places, no places to meet in public, no ‘date’ night specials. How were they going to proceed to meet new potential mates and get to know their options.

With caution?

Yes, that was my first response. Yes, it was a teensy, tiny bit snarky. Honestly, though, I didn’t understand the issue. We have a pandemic going on in the world and it is here, right here in these United States and you are worried about whether or not you can keep your social life going? Is this a bit shallow?

Then I thought about it from my friend’s perspective. She, like me, feels the weight of years though not quite as many years, she feels them just as I feel them. She like me has been divorced for more than five years and like me, she has formed a few what felt like to her committed relationships, they did not go the distance or as planned. She like me is looking down what feels like a short road and wondering if she is going to be alone for the rest of the journey.

Pandemic be damned then full speed ahead, her prince may be out there and he might frogprincebe just as lonely in his isolation as she is.

We are similar in so many ways yet different in one very important personality quirk, one key that will allow us to weather this storm with our sanity intact. She and I are polar opposites in our need for regular human interaction. Don’t mistake me, I enjoy my friends and family simply in smaller and more controlled doses. I also enjoy a dinner out now and then, I just simply don’t need it. My friend, on the other hand, she still loves nightspots, dancing, concerts and anything else that gets her out and about. Me? I love the theater and willingly take myself on dates, I have zero need for company. My friend? She would not be caught dead anywhere alone and feels downgraded if I invite her to come with me.

Needless to say, we are very different creatures.

I spend days, sometimes even weeks without ever talking to a single soul unless it is work-related. My friend can’t go more than a few hours without social interaction, she feels unloved, unappreciated and unfulfilled. She needs human touch, human validation, human voices to know she exists in the world. She is an extrovert, I love her dearly but she makes me a bit crazy at times. I realized during this conversation, her extroversion goes beyond her comfort in crowds and her extreme touchy-feely-huggy with everyone she meets. Her extroversion is her spirit and soul, it is how she feeds her joyfulness every single day and she is joyful. This compulsory isolation is removing from her a necessary part of her life, her ability to reach out and touch, emotionally and physically other human beings.

She wasn’t just asking about how to continue her dating life, how to continue her search for her prince charming. She was asking how to live.

So I had to get serious with my friend, I don’t want to lose her to depression. I also don’t want to lose her because she does something stupid, desperation can cause any of us to make stupid choices. There are no simple choices right now, yes our prince may well be out there but if we haven’t found them yet there is no simple answer to dating during a pandemic, social distancing is the only answer we have and maybe it is a blessing we weren’t looking for but a blessing nonetheless. Time to get back to some good old fashioned courtship routines; talking, no touching, sitting far apart, walks in the park. I know, it all sounds so sterile and it is, but why risk dying if you don’t have to.

Old LettersTalk on the phone, after you have established some level of feel-good and trust. Write long emails to each other, learn to use your words. There was a time when letter writing was a valued transaction between courting pairs when letters were saved as proof of intentions. My grandmother had letters from my grandfather from before and during their marriage, how she was able to read them is beyond me but she was and she married him. Use Chat and Video Chat, again learn to use your words. The point is get to know your potential date mate as a human being before your very first date, figure out if this is a person you actually want to spend time with, find out if you can have a conversation.

Love in a pandemic, where fear rules us and isolation is the decree of the day will be hard. When you are not naturally inclined toward seclusion this will be even more difficult. My friend is already feeling the pressure of being alone, without the validation of social interaction to lift her spirit she is afraid. I understand her anxiety. I have a different level of distress, even though my natural tendency to isolate and this allows me to get through days without interaction I am afraid too and I will talk about that at some other time.

How will we get through this?

I can only think this isn’t forever and we will come out the other side differently. We will learn different skills and different ways to build relationships and interact with each other. Our expectations will be different and perhaps we will set a new standard for those prince’s who wish to join us on our journey. Women of a certain age want to partner, we don’t want to live our lives alone. In this, my friend and I are very much alike. Now we look down this tunnel of how do we find that elusive man who will see us for all we are, all we have to offer and begin to build a very different portrait, one that is more honest more true to life, of them and ourselves. Possibly that portrait will be more true to life.

At least that is my hope.

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