Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dharmachakra: Life as a Wheel

You can blame Lidian for this post. She's the one who made the comment in the previous post which made me want to talk about personality and life-purpose some more. (As if Google would see any authority in a link from THIS sorry blog, right? Go visit her anyway. And comment on her posts. Harass her. That's a jest - do NOT harass Lidian. She is an introverted writer who lives in a Cabin in the woods. Wood. In the Yukon. Whatever.)

In my last post, I ridiculously put forth the notion that all of us fit into one of only three personality types. That was hogwash, of course; there are only two. All people are either Homer Simpson or Mr. Burns. Those who are gullible - clueless - and those who prey upon the gullible - assholes and politicians. Wait, those last two words mean the same thing. Sorry.

Seriously, though. If I may be serious. Ok, I will ease into the serious part slowly.

In my closely-guarded MUPPET system of human personality classification, there emerge, remnants of Mt. Olympus, superior beings who see it as their mission on earth to interpret the world around them - who even try to make sense out of life. These people are insane (of course) and they make me sick. As proof of its sense of humor, the Creator made me one. Thanks a lot.

Though my intentions were benevolent, I lied in my previous post when I said sculptors and painters and dancers and musicians were "Craftsmen-Artists". All artists are actually "Interpreters." So are photographers, those lazy painters among us. And ...YES!... so are introverted writers.

There are no extraverted writers. Not good ones, anyway. There are only introverted, tortured souls who write in solitude from inside a whiskey bottle. Or whisky bottle, if your name is Dylan Thomas. Ok, William Shakespeare was an extravert, but his writing was crap, right?

From their Poe-esque demented dispair in their lonely behind-in-the-rent garrets, they stare vacantly through the thick cigarette smoke and type at 2 a.m. with two fingers on old black Remingtons. No self-respecting introverted writers ever seem to learn to touch-type. And in their tragic liquor- and tobacco-shortened lives, they interpret the human condition.

As for me, I don't drink whiskey OR whisky, and I stopped smoking eons ago. My black 1938 Remington is retired to a dusty closet in the basement, replaced by a computer keyboard. Worse, I touch-type. But then, we all know I am not Dylan Thomas, either. "Interpreter-Lite," that's me.

If you've read this far down, hoping I'm about to devulge the meaning of life in the last part of the post, you should probably stop reading right now and go ask for your money back. I think I DO know why we are here on this earth. It isn't to be lawyers or politicians or telemarketers, just in case you thought that. The best advice this little doggie can give you is to find some sort of work that is congruent with your own personality and then grapple courageously from day to day. Find your passion. Something you care about. Let that passion provide your motivation.

Big letdown, eh?

Jo Coudert (in "Advice from a Failure") wrote that our lives sometimes seem to follow the format for a theatrical play: in the first act, the protagonist is chased up a tree; in the second act, people throw stones up at him as he cowers on a limb; and in the final act he finds a way down out of the tree.

The only thing is (she writes) is that we have come to the theater late, or dozed off, and we've missed the first act. We know we're up a tree, all of us - hell, people are throwing rocks at us! - but we don't know why we're up there or why we are being stoned. So we go through our lives trying hard to learn why we are here and what we did wrong to deserve what we are getting, and, in any respite of the slings and arrows being thrown at us, we earnestly try to find our way down out of the tree.

May you find your own purpose in life, and may that knowledge lead you, finally, to peace.


  1. A most excellent post, and I'm NOT just saying that because you made me indirectly responsible for it in some way...

    Up here in my own private Yellowknife, I write (actually freelancing now, as a job, which suits me). And having been in an academic tree in Act 1, am slowly climbing down. Out of my tree? Yeah, no doubt. One way or another.

  2. The thing is, I have an issue with any absolute statements, like there are no extroverted writers (good ones, anyway), etc. Nor am I convinced people are "just" introverted or extroverted. I'm very private in some ways, distinctly antisocial, but very open and extroverted in other ways. My uber-shy sister was a fantastic actress.

    I DO get the notion of working from passion.

    Aside from that, though, I might just take a refund. Do you have change for a nothing?

  3. Stephanie, in almost all posts - mine, yours, someone else's - there are things with are serious and things with are meant to be funny or at least tongue in cheek. One way to tell is to ask yourself if the statement is preposterous. For example, if I tell you that we don't really have a moon, or that it is made of cheese, then you are not to take that statement seriously. The statement that there are no extraverted writers is every bit as preposterous as if I had said there were no black writers or no women writers or no GOOD black writers or no GOOD women writers. Since you took something which is obviously preposterous at face value, and even argue with me that the moon isn't made of cheese, that tells me we have a deeper communication problem. I don't know what to do about that. I'm not going to change my style of writing or put asterisks where the jokes and absurdities are.

    As for there being no absolutes in life, you are free to design your own "reality" if you wish, but know that there is only one REAL reality that exists. There is a sun, whether or not you admit a sun in your personal reality; 2 plus 2 equals 4 in the real reality of life, whether or not you are willing to accept that in your "personal reality" or not. And introversion and extraversion are not things you put on in the morning and take off at night. If you are a true introvert you will never be a back-slapper at parties that only strangers attend, and you will never truly enjoy and look forward to giving speeches to rooms full of strangers - though you can certainly train yourself to do these things. But, if you are an introvert, even a socially adjusted and trained introvert, when given a choice of making a speech or working alone in your laboratory, you will never choose making a speech or being a door to door salesman, just for the fun of it. You can make yourself do these things, even make yourself learn and practice to do them well. So what? It still isn't gut-natural when you do them.

    Likewise, acting is just that - acting. When an introvert gives a speech, he is acting in a sense, and acting old is not being old and acting dead is not being dead. It is acting. When the play is over, the introvert still NATURALLY prefers contemplation, even if they just finished acting like a buffoon on stage. And just because a person thinks they can switch their brain wiring back and forth, doesn't mean they can. There is "natural" and there is "trained to do this thing". If this hadn't been proven by scientific studies over hundreds of years, I wouldn't be so sure in my position. But whether you accept the true reality or not doesn't mean you or your sister ARE the exception to human physiology (yes, physiology, not psychology.) Give me some instances where you ARE an extravert and are not merely ACTING the role of an extravert, as we all can when we need to.

    I'm sorry you didn't get anything out of this, but I don't think you were open-minded enough to give it an honest try, so no refunds. :)

  4. Lidian, it's good news that you are free-lancing. Bravo! Someday you will be even more famous than you are now!

  5. Stephanie, I don't mean to be as harsh as the above response probably sounded. I get pretty direct in a debate (and therefore I need to "train" myself to act more feeling, which doesn't come natural to me. Perhaps recognizing that I NEED to pay more attention to emotions and feeling is itself a step in the right direction.) Anyway, I wanted to say that I realize people process information in different ways, and one of those ways is taking most things at face value. Nothing wrong with that.

  6. Introverts aren't antisocial. You need to revise your image.

  7. Having read your response, RM, it occurs to me that I'm not the only one who might have a hard time recognizing a joke. Must I include :)? There is something deliciously ironic in your rather impassioned expostulation for me to try to recognize jokes to my, well, joke.

    In seriousness, I *don't* like absolutes particularly when it comes to people (I can tell the difference between hard facts and things that tend to be true - reality is chock full of the latter, by the way). Sorry that distinction wasn't clear. I don't believe people are binary THIS or THAT. I base this on observation of reality and add that, in my opinion, our language is fluid and ambiguous enough that different interpretations make almost any blanket statements about character traits and personality trends impossible to be black and white, with the exception of politicians [ :) ]. It's all well and good to go around putting labels on things, except there is always a spectrum of qualities encompassed by even the most specific word when applied to the reality of people. And labels can far too easily become epithets in my opinion.

    It occurs to me that might be why I so rarely describe my characters in detail, so that people don't confuse the words I think of to describe them with how they would interpret the characters. I like people to decide for themselves.

    Technically, I never said that intorverts were antisocial, just that I was (or at least I have some antisocial qualities). I am not introverted except in the sense that I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I think and feel.

    Let me think about your challenge to prove I'm an extrovert. Seems odd to be challenged to prove myself when I don't think I fit the definition.

  8. So, I went to look up extrovert and introvert just to ensure I understood the definition (the definition fit, broadly, the one in my head, by the way) and stumbled upon a word I didn't know:

    ambivert: a person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert

    How could that have happened (scientifically speaking)? Wasn't your point that people could only be one or the other? Perhaps you should have words with the folks at Merriam-Webster. Apparently, they're as unlinked from reality as I am.

  9. Balderdash!

    Dictionaries define words, not verify they are an actual existing thing.

    My dictionary has a definition for "hell". Do you believe in "hell"? My dictionary has a definition for "creationism". Do you believe in creationism? Vampires? Ghosts? Zeus?

    You don't believe in all the pioneers in psychiatry. Ok. Your call. Your "reality." But I do.

    And the fact remains that people are born with certain preferences. They grow and adapt and become more well-rounded individuals. (Most of us do.) But, just because we learn to do things that don't come "naturally" to us doesn't mean we have changed our natural preferences.

    So you can be an introvert in the morning and an extrovert at night if you want? Still waiting.

    Stop putting down introverts as if they were inferior to extraverts. Einstein was an introvert. But he made himself go to parties. He just pretended he forgot his pants** to fulfill his eccentric reputation. But he didn't get up on a stage at the party and tell jokes.

    He could have though. He was a very well-adapted introvert.

    **I don't think that really happened. Just an outrageous legend. Pure BUNK!!!

  10. All truth is in harmony with actual facts. Things don't "tend" to be true.

    Do you know what "magical thinking" is? Check it out on Wikipedia if you have a few minutes. It is SOOO you. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  11. What in the world makes you think I think introverts are inferior to extroverts?

    Perhaps you should stop reading between my lines. Seriously.

    And, no, I'm not desperately impressed with the pioneer or more recent psychiatric masterminds. But by all means, think what you like.

    I shall do the same.



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