Saturday, August 30, 2014

Introversion and Skydiving

I've just started reading "Quiet" by Susan Cain, a book that shines a light on introversion.  And I read something that gave my my minipiphany for the day:

"Introverts feel 'just right' with less stimulation, as when they sip wine with a close friend, solve a crossword puzzle, or read a book.  Extroverts enjoy the extra bang that comes from activities like meeting new people, skiing slippery slopes, and cranking up the stereo."

I've never thought about introversion in terms of stimulus before.  I usually think about it mostly in terms of social interactions.  But Susan talks about how introverts are drawn to the inner world of thought and feeling while extroverts are drawn to the external life of people and activities.  "Introverts focus on the meaning they make of the events swirling around them."  And her inclusion of skiing made me pause.

Actually, I skied a few times when I was younger and quite enjoyed the rush.  But when I went skydiving, I didn't feel the same way at all.  I went with my friend John about 12 years ago.  John is a total extrovert, able to engage anybody in conversation, and his skydiving experience was absolutely thrilling.  Mine was ... fascinating.

People think that when you jump out of the plane, you get a rush, like on a roller coaster.  But that's not true.  Because you're already moving at the same speed as the plane that you're on.  So when you jump, your trajectory changes, but not so much your velocity.  At least not enough to feel your stomach doing backflips. At least not for me.  Instead, I found myself in an odd situation.  I'm up in the sky.  Falling.  The wind rushing past me and blowing my hair back.  The earth way down below.  Huh.  Interesting.  Not scary.  No rush.  Just sitting up here in the sky.  Okay.  So this is skydiving.  It's kinda cool.  It's a nice view.  Cool.

I can see now that my introversion gave me a completely different experience than John.  When we got to the ground, he was whooping and hollering and patting me on the back, and I almost felt bad that I wasn't sharing the same feelings.

Which brings me to another John experience.  His son has seizures pretty frequently.  The first time I saw him have a seizure was at a park.  John quickly rushed over to hold his boy, so there wasn't really anything for me to do.  And afterwards, as John will laughingly tell you, my first comment was that it was fascinating.

With both the skydiving and the seizure, my brain instinctively chooses to stop and process the information.  To think about it and try to find meaning, rather than react in an outward fashion.  Which can leave me feeling detached and make me appear aloof to others.

Which is not a bad thing.  It's just how I work.

You can check out Susan Cain by reading her book, or by watching her Ted Talk.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Art by Analog

My men's group has been going through Revelation, and I'm finding it pretty dry.  But my friend Whitney suggested something different.  Here are the results: imagery from Revelation chapter 16.  Without further ado, I give you ... the Analog Artpocalypse.

Here's mine.

Here's Erik's.

Here's Randy's.

Here's Allen's.

Here's Chris'.

Here's Ryan's.

Here's Mark's.

Here's Mike's.

Here's Adam's.

And Seer wrote a song.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lame is Good?

I was having a conversation the other day with a new friend - we're still getting to know each other.  And she asked me what my plans are for my life.


I explained that lack of drive is one of the biggest problems I have.  And I explained that I've had a variety of  careers, and that none of them has panned out.  And I explained that in this last unemployed period, I told God that I was trusting Him to take care of me, probably more sincerely than I ever have before.  And it looks like God has steered me into this new position with a church start-up.

All good, right?  Everything is in God's hands?  Except, it leaves me feeling lame.

'Let go and let God'.  'When we are weak, He is strong.'  Sounds nice, but the reality is that it leaves me feeling like a loser who can't accomplish anything on my own.  And you can tell me that it's good that I'm learning to trust God more, and I know that's true in my brain.  But it doesn't feel good.  It feels like I suck at life.

Then, yesterday, we were having our weekly Bible study at the pastor's house, which also works as a sounding board for the pastor, as we strategize on how to reach out to folks in Santa Monica.  And he asked  us to describe Westsiders - that bizarre, alien set that lives West of the 405 in L.A.  And it was an enlightening experience.  Every single quality that everyone listed was the exact opposite of who I am.  Westsiders are environment-loving, dog-owning hipsters who work in the arts or technology and who engage in moral relativism and project a carefully cultivated persona.  They are driven, they have money, they use social media, they have trouble committing to anything and they are resistant to marketing.  And on and on.

I quickly began asking myself what in the world I am doing at this church.  I believe in absolutes.  I don't care about wealth, as long as I can get by.  I strive to be open and honest and vulnerable with people.  My ever-present crocs make it clear that I have no interest in fashion.  How can I possibly relate to the people we're trying to reach out to?


But on the way home, it occurred to me that perhaps that's exactly why I'm there.  Because I'm the opposite.  Perhaps those very qualities are what will appeal to Westsiders, or at least make them take notice.

Specifically, I think I'm very real.  What you see is what you get - as opposed to a persona that I choose to project.  So maybe that's something to consider as I go forward.

Maybe I am lame.  But maybe God made me lame for a reason.