html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Loud for sure. Less reckless than you might think.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Loud for sure. Less reckless than you might think.

Capella didn’t like my post on doing stuff, and she makes some good points:

You seem to be ignoring the fact that we all have the same number of hours in a day, and that choosing to do something - however fun and exciting that something is - is inevitably choosing not to do something else. Choosing to stay out bar-hopping until 4 a.m. on Thursday night is also choosing to not do (or not do very well) whatever would have been done Friday morning. Choosing to go on a road trip this weekend is choosing not to do your laundry, read a novel, or visit your parents. These might be the choices you prefer - but you are still choosing not to do things that other people might choose to do. You are not privileging action over inaction; you are privileging the external over the internal and the spontaneous over the planned, and that's a valid choice, but it's unfair to claim that everyone who values organization, routine, and internal progress "does nothing". We aren't boring, just less full of bravado, and mostly we think you're loud and reckless.

The funny part about this is that among my people, I am the staid and conservative one, calculating the chances of success, and wondering if we should scale back*. I’m the one worried about what tomorrow will feel like. More often than not, however, I’m game, and that is based on two things.

First, just like Capella points out, you have to keep your life prepped. It is no fun to spend a beautiful day at the park fretting over your undone laundry and no-food-in-the-house-for-next-week. I try to keep up on those, so I am ready to go when the going presents itself. Or, I go the other route, and know that if I take off, my house will be a disgusting pit for a few days. The key to that is “no regrets”. It was a decision to go; I knew the consequences; when I’m doing chores at midnight two days later, I suck it up. That was the choice and I have the memory of fun to sustain me. Yeah. Behind all that fun spontaneity and gracious house is a fuck of a lot of work. It is not that I am luckier or that it all comes easier or that I am magic and different. It is just that you don’t see it when I bust my ass to recover from some spontaneous weekend.

The other part was a realization I had a long time ago, which is that for most of the developed world, life is safe. The answer to ‘what is the worst that could happen?’ is, in order, ‘your outing will be more expensive than you want, you will be tired, hungry or cold, you will have to ask for help’. That’s pretty much as bad as it gets for middle class people, the vast majority of the time. Those aren’t fun, but they won’t kill you either. With those as my worst likely outcomes, I’m totally willing to gamble on fun. In retrospect, the choice gets even better, because I don’t particularly remember tired and cold, or miss the money, but I do remember the crazy story.

As for favoring one type of activity over others, I don’t think the break is between spontaneous or planned. We do both, and I’m contrasting against people that I can’t get to do either. External and internal might be part of the distinction, but dude. I spend lots of time alone. Time alone is my default. I like it, but it isn’t something I have to create. I don’t know what the difference is. I think it comes down to trusting the world. Trusting the world has worked pretty well for me.

*There are times when Chris brings me to angry, shaking tears. No! I’m scared to climb that! Just cause you can get down doesn’t mean I can. No! It is so late and I was tired two places ago! Let me out of this, I just want to go home! Tomorrow morning everyone will want to eat again, and that means I’ll be up for an hour before all y’all and it is not fair to keep me up! Chris and I have Had Talks about this. I’ve lost it and cursed him out. I’ve put my head down on the table at the cafe, cried and gone to sleep. But in the end, nothing bad actually happened. I was mad or tired or scared. But I am not still stranded at the top of some rocks. He always brought me back. I don’t still miss that sleep. If I could have approached whatever we were doing in good spirits, the same things would have happened and I would have liked them.


Blogger Erica said...

If I could have approached whatever we were doing in good spirits, the same things would have happened and I would have liked them.

To me, a big part of my life is how I felt while I was living it. I have spent a lot of time "having fun" at the expense of getting enough sleep/rest/food, and at a certain point fun stops being fun. When the thing you want to do most in the world is cry or sleep, you are not enjoying your fun. Maybe you will have lots of stories about the cool things you did, but I would prefer to do fewer cool things, and some decidedly uncool things, and enjoy them.

I've had a lot of arguments about this sort of thing with people who do not agree with me, and think I am an unreasoning wet blanket. Maybe I just have less energy than is normal, but most of the time the most exciting thing I can imagine to do with an entire free day is to spend it curled up somewhere warm, reading a book.

2:04 PM  
Blogger matt said...

I agree that a big part of life is, as capella puts it, "how I felt while I was living it."

I think the trick is in balancing the energy we expend with the opportunity to replace it. We're each at different places on that spectrum, and we all recharge in different ways.

What would each of you do to recharge at the end of a long week? Megan, I'm guessing you'd want to do something outdoors and active in the company of friends. Capella, you'd curl up with a book. I'm somewhere in the middle, where I'd choice to be outside and active, but probably by myself. Each to their own.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

I didn't mean to be necessarily coming out in favor of chores or rest over fun. Sometimes fun has been already planned, and more fun will conflict with it, or detract from it somehow.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Megan -- we've had a similar exchange to this one. In which someone (me, capella) says "not everybody likes to do that" and you say "but that's because you don't understand!"

Usually I read your blog and feel that, even if I don't agree with you, we'd at least be able to have a discussion and figure out why exactly we'd never agree.

But you don't seem to understand that other people don't have the same idea of 'fun' that you do. You seem genuinely baffled that someone would prefer staying home to going out as a default.

All of that's okay, but you also get kind of mean, a la:

"Those people are little walking plagues of ineffectual boredom"

Which, blog-knowing you, I'm sure you didn't mean *me*, but I could see how someone could take it that way.

(who seems to only comment anymore when you've annoyed him.)

10:41 PM  
Blogger billoo said...

How do you *get* people to be spontaneous?

Strange. Was watching a film last night and the first lines were: happiness isn't always fun.

1:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tomorrow morning everyone will want to eat again, and that means I’ll be up for an hour before all y’all and it is not fair to keep me up!

This part makes me curious - why would you always be up an hour beforehand?

4:06 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

"Those people are little walking plagues of ineffectual boredom"

Yeah, I take exception to that. I agree I am a very boring person. Most people are very boring, and I am certainly no exception. But ineffectual? Pfft. :)

6:03 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Yeah, that phrase was too harsh.

I spent a fair amount of time yesterday thinking about whether I could come to genuinely understand the introvert mindset. I usually figure that people want to be out, engaged with stuff or people, but are inhibited by something. Which is why my post goes over how I stopped being inhibited by something.

But that's not what you guys are getting at. You're all "but I don't WANT to", and I'm all "really? Weird." And then I'm like, "so, you are just home all day, and you are doing stuff. See, I am home all day lots of days, and I do stuff or I nap or I read your blogs, but by late afternoon, I need more. So, you guys just don't need more? Huh."

That was as far as I got.

The other thing that I was responding to is people who only shoot down ideas. I actually have a fair amount of respect for 'No, don't want to because I'd rather do something at home.' Fine, whatever. But the people who are invariably "the trip won't work because" or "I couldn't because" or "doing that is too hard because", those people are ineffectual. They shut out activities they could do, and when you check on them five years later, they live exactly the same lives.

Emir, that's because I usually do the cooking.

10:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

surprisingly [or not] I find I need both human beings and human doings in my life, or there is no balance. We all implode sometimes, and it is often our opposite type that pulls us back out. I am well known for watching clouds, or snowfall, because it provides a backdrop for the dialogue in my mind. When a friend who is one of those epic 'go big or go home' people had a life changing thing happen. We watched eagles soar on thermals near my house for an hour or so. We had a short conversation about a few things, and that was it. Later that evening at a get together among friends, he was back to his old self. Except with more going on behind his eyes. We have remained friends for 30 years because sometimes each of us need the other to balance.
Sure, he calls me "boring old Mr. Normal..." I usually say the old Ferris line about life moving pretty fast: "if you don't stop and take a look around once in a while, you could MISS it." It's interesting how both movement and standing still are contained in that idea.

I suppose this is the reaction you would expect from a centrist type guy...

11:03 AM  
Blogger Erica said...

I think the extrovert/introvert divide is different from the adventurous/unadventurous divide. It is difficult to do certain adventurous things alone... often I would like to do something more exciting than go to the bookstore or a neighboring city, but it requires other people and my desire to not acquire and maintain a whole bunch of other people is much stronger.

Also, Megan, you in particular seem to have an unusually high level of energy. Possibly this is what happens when one consistently gets enough sleep.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Megan on this.

The people I really don't get are the people who seem to truly choose nothing.

It's one thing to be an introvert, or put all of your energy into your career, or school, or just learning something on your own. You're choosing to do something with your life.

It's the people who really aren't advancing in their careers, aren't in school, can't be dragged out of their house for any activity, and aren't really doing anything at home.

These people who wake up every day, do exactly what they have to at work, get their check, make sure they pay the cable bill, and sit in front of the tv every night.

Or, like Megan said, the people who seem to have so little excitement for their own lives that they find any reason they can to shoot down ideas so they can get back to their doing nothing alone. It's like they want to drag you down with them.

My whole take on this is, you get 1 life. At the end of it all you're gonna have are memories. I can't imagine a life full of memories of nothing more than my favorite television shows, and missed opportunities.


12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm .....

I am ... confused by this. For one thing, I don't think of Megan as being a total extrovert. I think Megan enjoys doing a range of interesting activities that are similar to activities that she has done before with people who knows or who know people she knows.

I guess I describe an extrovert as somebody who is energized by interactions with strangers. For example, if I said "Hey, wouldn't it be cool to go on a date with a different guy every night for a month", many extroverts would say "That sounds like so much fun!"

As for shooting things down, I guess it depends what people are saying no to and why. I'm puzzled why you think the default attitude is "must say yes otherwise you are a wet blanket". Perhaps the things that your friends suggest tend to be the sorts of things you like to do.

I personally would prefer to err on the side of saying yes to interesting suggestions when I have the time and the energy to do them. But I've found that what other people find interesting is not always interesting to me. For example, I hung out with a bunch of guys whose idea of a good time was to get drunk in a bar and put each other down (I'm not kidding). That was really boring. I know other people who love to go shopping at malls and talk about the latest clothes. I've tried it, it really didn't interest me. I'm sure to these people I'm a total wet blanket.

I just see no reason to default to saying yes to people when often saying yes to them means I don't get to do something else I find more interesting with the time.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Erica said...

I just see no reason to default to saying yes to people when often saying yes to them means I don't get to do something else I find more interesting with the time.

I agree... I'm actually working on developing the ability to *not* say yes to things, because my instinct is to eagerly assent to every plan, even if on reflection I know I won't enjoy it. But the thing is, like Justin said, you only get one life, and I'd rather not spend it doing things I know I won't enjoy just because someone else thought it would be fun.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As an occasional, very introverted lurker here, I've often thought that a little bit of the misconception is that, to extroverts, the lives of introverts don't seem to have *stuff* in them (oddly, the reverse doesn't seem to be true - someone once said that "extroverts are as inscrutable as puppy dogs", which I quite like; I like puppies, but like extroverts they're not very mysterious). In my life, I rarely leave the house, mostly because people just exhaust me. But it's not really "doing nothing". Most of my time is spent in the company of ideas. I read, I write, I do maths and if it's something decent, I'll watch TV or play computer games. What matters to me are the concepts with whom I spend my days. The actual people, less so. Doesn't mean I don't like them - I love my mates, but there's no reason why I need to see them more than once a week. If I did, they'd start to wear me out and I'd grow to dislike them very quickly. And that'd be a pity, because they're genuinely lovely folks.

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The funny thing about this is that I am (as Megan can attest) an extrovert. I guess I just know a lot of boring people who do boring things is all. Being an extrovert I'm fine striking out on my own, provided I get to meet and talk to some interesting strangers along the way. I don't really feel the need for a posse.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Some people really aren't any fun. It's not if they spend their time with people, ideas, or activities.

As an extrovert, it may be hard for me to understand introverts, but I've never thought that my introverted friends are "no fun" or "wet blankets." If they're my friends, I have genuine respect for them and the way they live. I have met nay-sayers and boring people. They spend their time... well, I'm not sure. They spend their time worrying, angsting, and complaining as far as I can observe. Those are the scary people. My most introverted friends have exciting thoughts and ideas to share.

As for doing and attitude... Those complainers above do often have a bad attitude. One of my favorite expressions is "The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is attitude." For me life is often an adventure, and only occasionally an ordeal. For others, life is continually an ordeal.

I see two independent axes here: intro/extro-vert and good/poor attitude. People with poor attitude regardless of their intro/extro-version aren't much fun to hang around with. And, while people with poor attitude may just stay at home, I don't confuse them with introverts with vibrant lives.


3:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I also know people with bad attitudes who do a lot of interesting things, and people with good attitudes who do things I find uninteresting. I don't connect the two - some of these grumblers are gathering up momentum for the task, if they didn't grumble they wouldn't get anything done.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Colin R said...

The Californian post really was irritating, on a number of levels. But for me it was not so much the extrovert thing as because you let yourself get way too carried away with the smug Californian attitude. "We think you're boring"?! It's really the only time you're offensive, Megan -- your party-planning post was like this too. When you let loose with the Californian triumphalism, it's not cute, it's obnoxious.

I lived in California for a couple years, and my friends here in Boston are way, way cooler than anyone I met there. It's not the state; your state is full of speed-limit-driving preppy safety moms and drunk marketing careerists and self-righteous vegan hippies the same as anywhere else. Yes, you have better weather, but when you crow about it you just sound like a dick.

I hope this doesn't come across too harsh. I say it mostly because I'm pretty sure the offensive version is not the real you.

9:22 AM  

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