What vacation means to me...

Many people who know me professionally are incredulous when I tell them that I come out as an "introvert" on the Myers-Briggs personality indicator. I know, I know - I put out a LOT of energy in public and am pretty good making connections in a crowd.  But it is also totally exhausting. The distinctions between an extrovert and an introvert have been summarized like this:

The preferences for extraversion and introversion are often called attitudes. Briggs and Myers recognized that each of the cognitive functions can operate in the external world of behavior, action, people, and things (extraverted attitude) or the internal world of ideas and reflection (introverted attitude). The MBTI assessment sorts for an overall preference for one or the other.

People who prefer extraversion draw energy from action: they tend to act, then reflect, then act further. If they are inactive, their motivation tends to decline. To rebuild their energy, extraverts need breaks from time spent in reflection. Conversely, those who prefer introversion expend energy through action: they prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again. To rebuild their energy, introverts need quiet time alone, away from activity.

The extravert's flow is directed outward toward people and objects, and the introvert's is directed inward toward concepts and ideas. Contrasting characteristics between extraverts and introverts include the following:
  • Extraverts are action oriented, while introverts are thought oriented.
  • Extraverts seek breadth of knowledge and influence, while introverts seek depth of knowledge and influence.
  • Extraverts often prefer more frequent interaction, while introverts prefer more substantial interaction.
  • Extraverts recharge and get their energy from spending time with people, while introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone
After 30 years of ministry - and lots of inner work - I have learned to balance my introverted attitude and make it work for me (mostly.)  I plan my days so that there is balance between public and private time and I rarely push the limits of my ability to interact deeply.  As I've noted before, I also plan "retreat" times every 6-8 weeks as part of my commitment to self-care - times away with Dianne - that are quiet and very, very private.

And that's why we plan our vacations away from our ordinary lives:  believe me, when two introverts spend a great deal of their time being public... let's just say it is a matter of heart and soul for us to have profound down time.  Don't get me wrong, we DO things while we're away - this year it is the Montreal Jazz Festival (and an exploration of Ottawa) - but we do it on our time table without having to check in with anyone else.  It is living in a rhythm that heals and renews. (Later this summer we'll take another extended break far away from the madding crowd, too.)

For some reason I've become smitten by Montreal:  I love the architecture, I am hopelessly entranced by the language (and the bi-lingual experience), I find the "groove" refreshing and being outside the USA feeds my wander-lust like nothing else.  We have gone to this sweet place every year since returning to New England - and I feel like I am just beginning to get a sense of it - and can't wait to get on the road later this week.  Mostly, we'll walk the streets, sip red wine or tea in cafes, take in a ton of free jazz and rest.  We'll find  to feast from time to time, visit lots of churches and book stores and have the chance to share some of it all when daughter Jesse joins us at week's end. 

Please understand - we both cherish our church and our community and families and friends - we both give thanks to God to be with such loving and generous people.  It is a blessing we celebrate everyday.  And we know that sometimes others just don't get it, too. That goes with the territory. But here's the real thing: Dianne is my most favorite person - she "gets" me and I her - so being quiet together is like being fully alive in the best way possible.  Laissez les vacances commencent!


Black Pete said…
Welcome to the land of pseudo-extroverts, James. We introverts are capable of a "public" persona that requires a fair amount of solitude and peace to refuel.
RJ said…
Exactly, my friend - and it is exhausting!

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