I stopped at the library on my way to work last week and emerged with a yummy stack of new books. I’ve been a weekly library patron for about 44 years. I read in the bathtub, in bed before I go to sleep and often first thing in the morning, and on my 45 minute bus ride to and from work.
One of the books I got (and am more than halfway through) is one of those rare, self-affirming, possibly life-altering reads. Quiet by Susan Cain. The cover attracted me. Less is more. With its title and minimalist cover,
I expected the book to be thoughtful, well-researched and enlightening.
That’s the sound of your thoughts.
If you are happy with what you hear,
you may be an introvert.
For too long, those who are naturally quiet,
serious or sensitive have been overlooked.
The loudest have taken over – even if they have nothing to say.
It’s time for everyone to listen. It’s time to harness the power of introverts.
It’s time for Quiet.
I’m not necessarily learning anything new from this book. I’ve known that I’m an introvert for much of my life. Although it’s been a painful journey at times, it has been an amazing voyage of self-discovery. I’m familiar with Carl Jung and the Meyers-Briggs and have read Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person. From my undergraduate coursework in Psychology and my graduate studies in Counseling Psychology, I am familiar with many of the research studies that Susan Cain cites. I’ve done several workshops on the Enneagram (I’m a Type 4 – the Artist/Romantic/Individualist) and feel comfortable with my natural tendency towards introversion.
What I am really enjoying is how Cain ties all of these strands together and keeps stating the value and power of introverts. It’s bringing all of my insights and positive feelings about being deep and quiet to the fore. She also writes about blogging and online community/collaboration, how very much it suits us thoughtful, quiet types. Somehow, reading this book at this time in my life is enabling me to proudly carry the banner of ‘I’m an introvert and I’m OK!’
I went to the gym yesterday morning to work out. (I like my Sunday morning weight lifting sessions, as I am usually one of the few people there!). I made sure to take my camera because I noticed on Friday some trees just outside covered with plump red berries being foraged by blackbirds. After my session, I lingered outside and took some photographs. There was a group of blokes shouting and playing some loud game with a ball, football or rugby, on the pitch outside the sports centre. A couple of people came out of the gym and looked at me curiously. I just waved and went back to observing the trees and birds. Sometimes I feel a bit odd, stopping to stare and dream about things. But yesterday I realised the ball players are a bunch of extroverts doing their thing and here I am, an introvert, doing my thing.
I thought about a design I love by William Morris called ‘The Strawberry Thief’
Strawberry Thief, textile, 1883
and how the three birds who were squabbling in one of the 5 trees were the brash extroverts of the tribe, whilst the lone bird quietly going back and forth between hedgerow and another tree may well be an introvert blackbird. One of the things I learned in Quiet is that the introversion/extroversion spectrum spans animal groups too.
I was using my little Pentax Optio 40 which slips right into my pocket. Maybe if I had a bigger camera with a zoom lens I’d get a better photo, but I really don’t want the hassle of carrying bulky camera equipment around and the fuss of changing lenses.
Hawthorn, Crateagus monogyna
What I thought are berries are actually ‘haws’, the autumn fruit of the hawthorn tree. In Irish folklore the Hawthorn is sometimes referred to as the fairy bush, due to the belief that fairy spirits inhabit the tree as guardians, and since early times it has always been considered bad luck to cut or damage the tree in fear of offending them.
The Hawthorn Fairy, Cicely Mary Barker, 1926
Some folks make jelly or wine from them. This recipe for Chili Hawthorn Dipping Sauce looks great, but I’m not really a jelly maker.
I thought about the coming of winter and stocking up the larder. One of my weekend plans is to make pomegranate liqueur which will be ready by the winter solstice. I heard the steady clip-clop of hooves and waited for a horse and rider to pass by before I set off home to have a hot bath, read some more of my book and then turn my attention to pomegranates.