In a scene from the Dark Tower series by Stephen King, after the main characters have escaped a muderous monorail thanks to the actions of Eddie, the lead character Roland cries Eddie’s pardon for having treated him like an incompetent fool in the past. Eddie (who is my favorite character, by the way) says the apology is unnecessary and tells Roland that he can’t help his nature. To Roland, this is an epiphany.
More and more scientific research tells us that a lot of who we are is biological. Any mother or infant caregiver will tell you that babies already have distinct personalities.
I wonder how much of someone’s nature is fixed and how much we can change.
Back in the Twenties, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs Meyers, extrapolating from Carl Jung’s Theory of Personality Preferences, created the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, a quiz (some people dearly love quizzes and I’m one of them) that you can take to determine your personality preferences in four areas. None of these is fixed, they’re just preferences.
Now some people (looking at you, Bob) think this is bullcrap. Not me. I adore thinking about myself and categorizing myself: from the Meyers-Briggs to astrological signs to Ayurvedic doshas to on-line quizzes on which Disney Princess I’m most like. There’s excellent precedence for this. Socrates himself said, “Know thyself.”
I am a strong introvert– I like solitude; though I like people, they tend to exhaust me; I recharge by being alone; I’m introspective. I’m into me, pretty much.
I’m intuitive rather than sensory– I see things in terms of how they are connected, rather than in isolation, and details bore me. Which is why I can step over a tissue I dropped seventeen thousand times and never notice it. And why I don’t notice that Bob has rearranged a room or hung up a picture for about 3 weeks. “It’ll never be noticed from the back of a trotting horse” and “It’s close enough for government work” are pretty much my mottoes for evaluation.
Now that I reflect on it, I understand why Bob wouldn’t let me help paint the porch.
I make decisons based on my feelings– I want everyone to be happy and I think most things should be judged on a case-by-case basis. Thinkers want clarity, feelers want harmony.
These three personality traits, especially the first two, which are very strong and put me in a small minority of the population, have been construed by people who don’t understand me as weakness. I’ve been typecast many times as an artistic flake, a complete slob, and totally spineless. I don’t buy any of those labels, but I have seen people try to force me into those roles again and again. Usually, they are my opposites on these personlity traits. It’s true that I avoid confrontation– what’s the point? I don’t let anyone bulldoze me, but I resist quietly, so you may not notice. I’m one of those people who, when told what to do and how to do it, will nod and smile, then turn around and do what I want anyway. And, well, okay, I am a complete slob, I’ll give them that.
My last personality preference is Judging, in case you were wondering.
Just a few more words about…me.
In my first blog entry, I touched on the obstacles of fear and laziness, two sides of a coin. These are present in everyone, I know that, except psychopaths. What I wonder about is how fixed in someone’s nature they are. Can we leave them behind ? Or at least minimize their impact?
I believe your thoughts determine your emotions as well as your actions. But how well can I change my thoughts?
My big fear is learning to drive. I’m 38 years old and never driven. It is a huge fear and I’m not sure if I can change it.
Fear causes my hurricane mind to conjure up worst case scenarios in excruciating detail. What if Indi were attacked by another dog on our walk? What if she’s hit by a car? What if the house burns down? What if Bob and Posey wreck on the way to Cincinnati? A lot of the time, I can say to myself, Sam, you’re crazy, think about something else. Other times, I chant mantra to focus my mind elsewhere. But what a waste of energy! Not to mention attracting negative vibes, if you believe in that kind of stuff.
I never articulate those worst case scenarios, by the way.
But worse than fear, for me, is laziness. I am lazy. I am real lazy.
I sold a longish short story to a pro market in 2008. Someone actually paid me for my words. It was very exciting.
From the moment “Cowboy Angel” saw print, writer’s block, fueled by fear and laziness, shut me down. I haven’t finished anything since.
I’m a decent writer. I might have been able to break in if I’d kept it up. I mean, I’m not that sad about it. I can, and will, start over again. But I think I’ll continue to call on Ganesha, and to put my fear and laziness under a microscope. And try to understand and defy them.
Even now, fear is talking to me. It says, who the hell wants to read you psycho-analyzing yourself? No one is going to read this, it’s too long. This is not what other’s people’s blogs are about. This is dumb.
Whatever. I’m posting this anyway.