Who Are You?

Long ago and far away I had a friend who was, and is likely still, a performer. She loves performing so much that she’s made it her life’s work. If all of us felt as passionate about our profession as she, life would be a proverbial tiptoe through the tulips. This woman has a fabulous speaking voice and gets up in front of people whenever and wherever possible. If you won the Boston Marathon for the first time, you’d want this person in your PR court. Similarly if you died and needed a eulogy, nobody could do it better. (I don’t suspect she would discriminate between the two, either – for doubtless in her mind, both are her performance pieces.)

If my friend invited me to meet her for lunch at a public venue, it invariably ended up with her agenda being far more interesting and important to her than mine could ever be – that is, unless she could convince me to speak not only with her as originally planned, but to the entire swarm of humanity gathered within the building. “C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, C’MON!” – elbows jabbing my tender ribs. Get up there! You have so much to say – get up there! Hey, folks! This woman (finger pointing at the crown of my head) is fabulous, brilliant! Listen to her!”

It is easy and perhaps even human to want others to share the enthusiasm that lifts the hearts and minds of people like my friend. Bear in mind, however, that some of us liken sharing in public to the odd voltaic jolt to the kidneys. In marked contrast, my own heart and mind are buoyed when I glimpse a father tenderly stroking the cheek of his sleeping infant; while delectating in rare fractals of light at the close of a rainy day. I love the in-between moments, those apertures of tranquility.

When I was younger, I would savor more than a smattering of Chateauneuf de Pape or Beaujolais de Village and dance in public like no one was watching. I shared too much of myself with strangers; squandered half my precious existence in an earnest attempt to be someone others would like better. It left me feeling used, hollow and bereft.

I’m not sure the world loves introverts – but the world needs us to think deeply for it, to feel what others cannot or will not, to record what we observe and to validate the depth of human experience. I’m not saying we should all be divers – then again, I’m not goading anyone into inauthentic expression. If you want peace for example, be peace – and if it takes twenty-four hours a day of virtual seclusion for you to attain balance within, so be it. As Cat Stevens skillfully laid down in Hard Headed Woman:

I know a lot of fancy dancers
People who will glide you on a floor.
They move so smooth, but have no answers.
When you ask, “Why’d you come here for?”
“I don’t know.”
Why?

My question, exactly. But then – that’s just me.

Who, when it’s all said and done, are you?

(My interpretation of Cat Stevens' "fancy dancers") - image: visualparadox.com

8 comments on “Who Are You?”

  1. Bela, you may sit in my softest chair in my den for days on end and write, read, meditate or daydream. I will not disturb you except to bring you nourishment upon request. I will stand guard at the door and no one will enter. Then, when you are ready to reenter the world, you can do the same for me.

  2. I think, next to some people it’s important to remain an introvert, but there are some who are able to give you back even more if you open up near them.
    BTW, that friend that you described sounds like the first ones. 🙂

    • Aloha Alexandra! My feeling is that introversion is the way we are ‘inside.’ In other words, I don’t think it’s a choice to be introverted around some and not around others. We are this or that way by nature. But I presume you mean that it’s hard sometimes to know who is safe to open up around and who is not. And I admit, I’m too trusting at first, though I’m learning circumspection after many years with my husband who is very good at ‘holding his cards near his chest.’

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, I appreciate it. And I LOVE your cat photos! 😉

      • Thank you!
        I love reading your articles. I think I found your blog in Old Jules’ blogroll.

        I also don’t think that people choose to be introverts or extroverts. I think my answer was a response to your words that there were days when you shared what you felt openly and then you were left feeling hollow. I think I know what you were talking about and I think I had a similar experience. I used to think it all depended on me, on how much I shared and on how much I kept to myself and recently I realized that it obviously doesn’t depend on me only. If something makes me feel hollow it’s probably not something that I did but people who were near me when I did it.

  3. Hello again 😉

    I don’t think any interaction depends on one person only – it’s the dynamic between us, is it not? Always a learning experience, in any case! Hey – it gives me plenty of fodder for writing, that’s for sure!

    Take care, and thanks for finding me on Old Jules’ page – he’s great!


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