Editors Note: I’m a full-blown introvert. The last introvert test I took, one that I actually answered as honestly as possible, I scored 100%. The results scared the hell out of me. Hopeless was the word that came to me. Hopelessness was the feeling. But since that day, rather than fight or reject, I’ve decided to accept and revel in it. After all, why should we deny who we truly are? The following offers a random glimpse into the mind and activities of an introvert…that introvert being me.
I can vaguely make out the surrounding fallowed fields in the receding light of evening. I sit still, bathing in the peace and solitude of the moment. Windows down, rooftop open, no lights to be seen, no cars or traffic to be heard…it’s just me and the soothing rhythmic sounds of distant insects on this warm summer night.
I breathe deeply…pausing…letting the gratefulness and magic of the moment sink in. I’m in my element just sitting here, alone…appreciative of how important moments like these are in my life. Gratitude wells. My senses are alert and present. Tears well in my eyes, a shiver runs through and shoots up my back…showering its grace onto my brain and body.
I love moments like these.
I don’t fully understand what happens to the body at these times…hormones trickling, brain waves mellowing, cells vibrating, heart emanating, and breath slowing. All I know is that it feels frickin wonderful! For me, it’s gratitude and appreciation expressed, spilling and spreading outwards beyond this physical vessel. It’s undefinable. It’s beyond science. It is beyond understanding.
All I know is it’s real.
Solitude is such an important part of who I am. A natural born loner, I find solace and peace in my connection with the natural world and in my own unique thoughts and imagination.
I like people…I do. But I find myself more comfortable and connected in one-to-one situations or small groups than large group situations. I find it interesting how I’ve naturally gravitated towards individual activities my entire life, even before knowing what an introvert was.
My earliest memories recall being alone in my bedroom, occupying myself with building blocks, scissors, paste, and colorful construction paper. I would examine maps of the world, scour over facts and maps of our solar system, and keep myself occupied for hours assembling model cars, rockets, planes, and the human body. Sometimes I’d just sit next to my upstairs window feeling the gentle breeze flow across my face and through my hair, staring out onto the wondrous world of activity going on below. I‘d keep myself occupied for hours.
My parents must have loved that about me.
This carried over to sports as I grew older. Swimming has always been one of my favorite activities to engage in. Rhythmic and meditative, I use a mask and snorkel to see and observe the world that lies below the surface waters of freshwater lakes and salty oceans. There’s so much to observe! Synchronized mass movements of fish moving like flocks of birds, gliding over waterlogged trees of past logging days lying like naked fallen soldiers in the sand, and elusive bottom critters that dart so quickly they cause you to question your sense of sight. I’m constantly intrigued by the interesting interplay of light and water…the way light is bent, the patterns that light creates on the lake bottom, and the mesmerizing effect it has on my senses.
Other parts of lakes and bays offer climbing stalks of alien-looking plant life stretching towards the surface light, seeming in a race to out-do its neighbors. Oftentimes, it’s eerie and unsettling, especially when swimming through dense areas of weeds that reach out to touch my body, pull across my mask, and catch between fingers of outstretched hands.
Saltwater swimming is even more perilous, exciting, and oftentimes unsettling. Swimming precariously over a docile 12-foot nurse shark, witnessing incredibly creative patterns of colorful fish that defy one’s imagination, or backing off from a savage looking, mouth-gaping moray eel that’s eyeballing you…the list goes on. Feeling the gut uneasiness from a barracuda that likes to tag behind your feet and follow you, viewing a large spotted ray gracefully gliding its way through the water like a bird, and the rhythmic flow of sea fans that surge to-and-fro in the water currents…these all are experiences that make me appreciate a world I find intriguing and fascinating.
One time I was stopped abruptly in my tracks when I came across a group of rapidly darting sharks engaged in a feeding frenzy right in front of me. On another, my parents nearly had a heart attack from their 12th-floor perch as they observed a large group of shark perusing the coastline at feeding time, approaching their son who was nonchalantly swimming in the ocean out front. Their ineffective shouts along with the cries of construction workers next door fell upon deaf ears. Fortunately, for both my parents and I, the group split into two before reaching me, sandwiching me a safe distance between the two groups as they swam past.
I was totally unaware of my predicament until returning.
Water is incredibly sensuous to me. Having water waif over every cell of my skin, titillating each hair follicle on my body, is like a skin orgasm. Swimming into and through occasional pockets of cooler water keeps me present and cognizant of the incredibly unique experience that being immersed in water brings. My favorite place to swim? There are many, but tops on my list is along the towering sand dunes of Lake Michigan. Dunes on one side with the setting late afternoon sun on the other, it’s just me, the dunes, incredible light, and the critters and objects below.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Roads Less Traveled
As much as I am appreciative and incredibly grateful for this moment of late-night solitude, I realize I too often deny my spirit permission to be fully me. Too often I believe that who I really am isn’t enough, which causes me to continually look outside myself for answers and direction. Why is that? Why is truly giving oneself permission to be totally who they are so difficult? Even though I know that my true happiness and joy lies in discovering, developing, and sharing the real me, why is it that I often don’t trust, honor, or heed that which directs me from within?
That “not good enough” thing permeates and stays. I’ve always felt like an oddball, even as a youngster within my own core family. Have you ever felt like the black sheep of your family? Have you ever felt like you must have been dropped off onto Earth by aliens from another planet? Denying who I am while trying to “fit in” has consumed large parts of my life, particularly in my younger years. Why is it only now, in what I call my rewirement years, I’m only now beginning to give myself permission to follow my own unique road? In ways it feels like I’m once again a confused twenty-year-old, questioning the path to take ahead. One difference being though, that instead of having decades ahead of me, the end of my yardstick of life is now much closer. This fact leads to a certain urgency to get busy…to get busy living and doing. If I don’t do it now, chances increase I never will.
It’s a risk to let yourself be you. It involves being vulnerable, admitting you don’t have all the answers, asking for help from others when you need it, and continual stepping into zones of discomfort that test one’s core beliefs. It’s tough to sit in the unknowingness of what that is, feeling one’s way along little by little, often only inches at a time, never really knowing where the road ahead may lead. Can I trust my own voice, a voice that wasn’t really acknowledged or followed in the past? Is it real? Will I be safe?
Nowadays I find I’m testing this process more and more, taking seemingly big steps on some days, and small, itty-bitty ones on others. Sometimes those itty-bitty small ones are the hardest because they involve uncertainty. Regardless though, the important thing is to keep stepping forwards…day after day.
Nowadays, my relationship I have with the earth and others is more important than making money and accumulating wealth. Life experiences are, and always have been, the most important thing for me. Sometimes it feels incredibly selfish of me, but I need to honor that which I am. This includes what I do and how I spend my time. I am learning to accept that about myself.
I have a very special relationship with the earth. It shows through my life-long passion for photography, another individual activity. Without being cognizant of it, my soul has connected with the earth’s spirit and beauty. We talk. We share. We communicate. The earth gives me insight into its spirit, causes me to wonder, and to honor my imagination. It teaches me the importance of the present moment, and how everything is in a constant state of change.
Recently, I had someone ask me what the earth says to me. It took me a moment or two to come up with an answer. When it did, I knew right away.
The winds are high and blowing today, as a cool front moves through. The contrast from the ever-present heat of summer feels wonderful. I can hear the surf of Lake Michigan from my front porch 3/4 of a mile away. I hear a call to come, to experience the pounding waves in person. I take a road that winds through the woods, hearing the winds play their music amongst the leaves of the trees. The sounds rise and fall with each gust. Once again, the spirit of the earth calls out. It penetrates my body, recognizing its message from thousands of years of exposure. It’s peaceful and solemn, calming and soothing. It says all is well, appreciate this moment, be here, now.
Our world is full of beauty. We are all blessed.
I’m a self-professed madman, adventurer, photographer, certified High-Performance Coach, martial artist, and licensed physical trainer specializing in senior fitness. My passion is to continue growing and developing into my own unique, gifted, and joyful authenticity, while committing myself towards doing my own special part to help change the world. My mission is to help others find their own direction and purpose in life, by means of mentoring, teaching, and empowering.