I am a pretty detached person. Not easily toppled, not easily shaken, somewhat aloof. I am independent, self-reliant, need my space. I cherish my colleagues, friends, and relatives, but mostly from a distance, unless they seem sad or lonely, or may be misunderstanding my aloofness as judgment of some kind. I do not assume I am needed, or wanted at any particular moment, I do not like to interrupt, disturb, or take others’ time. I try to keep my talk to a minimum, am always conscious of the need to finish what I have to say, and to be a better listener. I need a lot of clues and subtle assurances that someone wants to hear more, to know or spend time with me, that someone values my thoughts or feels close to me. I never assume, I do not need many friends, do not need much time with the friends I have, and so sometimes my friends may feel neglected by me. I sometimes lose interest in people who show too much uncritical interest in me, though I have learned to accept compliments and appreciation, neither blushing nor rejecting, but as a kindness we all need and is a blessing to give.
I have a rich interior life, an active intellect, an inquiring mind. I am continually reflecting, analyzing, looking at things from various angles, questioning, wondering. I am an observer, a reader, a copious note-taker. I want to get at the details, roots, befores and afters, causes and effects, determine reasons, extrapolate effects, weigh implications. I feel periodic urges to learn everything there is to know about a given topic, to become an expert, but not by doing as much as reading, listening, talking and debating it out. I am stimulated by controversy, paradox, argument, debate.
I have ideas, lots of them, creative, alternative, various. I delight in imagining, projecting, envisioning, sketching out, listing, ordering, designing, mapping. I sew, draw, have quilted, designed some minor remodels, written some songs and poems, and a lot of letters and essays.
Gardening is my favorite pastime– I find it fully engaging, a truly multi-dimensional, creative, sensual, practical, experience, deeply satisfying at a primal level, and intellectually and physically challenging. I can learn and learn, and experience the fruit of this, but not be complacent or presumptuous. There is always something new happening in a garden, but even continuity may be surprising.
When I was a girl, I was bored with the arrangement of the furniture in my bedroom. So I drew a top view map to scale, marked off inches, measured and located all windowsills, electrical outlets, heating vents, and doorways. I measured each furniture piece, created movable cardboard pieces representing each, and laid them out in one formation after another until I was satisfied, and then moved my furniture accordingly.
My first garden was the same. I planned the shape, researched the methods, mapped out the four year rotations, ordered seeds, formulated amendments, layered compost, scheduled seedings, pottings, plantings, and prunings. I learned discipline of the body as I worked in four dimensions to produce food for several households and run a business.
At work, I am a slow planner. While many days, I am throwing down tomorrow’s lesson plans by the seat of my britches due to lack of time and teaching a new course for the first time, when I have lots of time I use every bit of it as I back up to the big picture view of scope and sequence, to laying out, layer my layer, and in increasing detail, a plan that includes key concepts, learning targets, vocabulary, at least two or three separate resources to support the main curriculum, ties to other subjects and previous and future courses, integrated projects, rubrics, collaborative protocols, note taking scaffolds, and ideas for enrichment and community or career connections. I work on the first of many units until the night before I need to teach, then, having run out of time, whip out a seat-of-my-britches plan on all subsequent days until I have a teacher work day. I forget where my original detailed opus is, so I start it all over again, though it’s somewhat in my mind in the rough. I am learning to be more realistic, though, more practical. Good enough can be good enough, especially when one is a little worn out.
On a team with the task of getting something done, I want to dig into the information, talk it out, get everyone’s ideas, get all the facts, variables, forward and backward considerations before I lay anything down. After this initial phase, during which I take lots of notes, I want to go off and be by myself, preferably for several hours or overnight with no other duties, to think it all through and come back with an intelligent, well thought-out plan, backed up by a well developed vision, purpose, and justification. Vision is key–I don’t want to go with the flow until I know what the source and the destination are, and whether they are worthy. It’s not enough for me to keep up with a trend, to stay up to date. I want to maintain a direction that is sustainable and leads in a positive evolutionary direction. But I defer happily, once I have said my piece, to the movers and the shakers, as long as they are guided by a decent vision, even if they more too fast at times. I do like to keep an eye out for anyone feeling bulldozed, not that I’m one of those Feelers, but I believe in true collaboration of diverse players, as any biologist should.
I am aloof, as I said, but also very curious about people. I want to know how they think, what interests them, how they approach life, problems, their work, relationships. I want to understand their strengths, gifts, talents, and ways of viewing the world, and why. I believe in the value of diversity for the resilience of a community, and want to be connected with many kinds of people, not with just people I “get” or who get me. I enjoy introducing friends from different circles to one another, assuming each will enrich the lives of the other as they have mine. I am not a jealous friend. Nor do I even understand that sort of thing, drama and such. Though I do find it amusing, and sympathize with those disturbed by this or that perceived slight.
I live so much in my mind, even a little information may occupy me, and I may forget to pay attention to those around me, to inquire into a person’s life, to ask good questions, to show sustained interest. I am startled into the realization periodically that I have not been a very good friend, while at other times I am given ample opportunity to love those around me in practical ways. I feel I am rather stingy of my time, energy, attention, protective of my space, but also, I know a need for relationships and fear their possible loss, at least of those very few I find sufficient.
I am trying to understand how I grieve. The way I explained to others who asked how I was doing was that I mostly live in the moment. There are some many fine moments in which to rest, and with people who care for me nearby, and my pleasures in weather, work, and words, I am never completely without resources, even when I am alone. At least, so far.