Thursday, 11 July 2013

Alone with you

I did one of those personality tests.

You know the sort of thing, where I answer a million questions about myself, analysing whether I'd rather do thinking things or feeling things, give orders or follow them, climb mountains or watch telly. That sort of thing. It's funny how we humans are fascinated with ourselves, isn't it?

I was quite surprised with the result, in places. Of course, none of it surprised you. You have the blueprint for me filed somewhere in your head - a unique combination of likes and dislikes, preferences and leanings, strengths and weaknesses.

You knew before I took my first breath that my mouth would sometimes run faster than my brain and I'd regularly have to spend an unfeasibly long time unpicking things afterwards.

You knew that I would eventually learn to sort out my thoughts and ideas by writing them down.

You knew that I'd like familiarity and routine and that I struggle with change.

You knew that it would take me a long time to get to know someone new.

You knew that I'd enjoy one to one conversations and small groups of people but tend to feel intimidated and retreat inside myself in a big group.

You know that the older I get, the busier I get, the more I need to find time to myself to avoid going stark staring mad. 

Right now I'm sitting in the shade in the garden and some brightly coloured birds are splashing in the bird bath. I think they're goldfinches. Yes, they're goldfinches. (Google is a wonderful thing).

There's a gentle breeze that makes the fronds of the silver birch rustle. The apple trees cast dappled shade on the grass that's too long with too much clover - but it's soft underfoot and good for paddling pools and cartwheels.

There are bees on the clover - they seem to like the white stuff better than the purple.

There are collared doves and blackbirds and sparrows and a pair of amorous wood pigeons in the hawthorn. The swings are still because the girls are at school.

A while ago it was playtime and I could hear the children in the playground from my bench here in the garden. I sipped my coffee and imagined I could hear Katy's voice. 

I love it. I love it so much. Me and the world out there, still there, still going round, still doing its thing, but I've stepped off for a little while. It's quiet, and still, and I am peaceful inside. 

I have my journal, and I talk to you in scribbles. It's a disjointed mishmash of ideas, thanksgiving, observations, praise, confessions, apologies and lurking anxieties, but I don't bother to whip it into any sort of shape. It reflects the inside of my head - confused and often disorganised - and you see everything that's in there anyway. I am not required to edit and polish. It's for my benefit, to splurge out all the stuff that accumulates inside me and sift through it with your help. Discard much of it, file a lot of it, hand it all over to you. 

I need to do this, or the Too Much Stuff in my head tangles up terribly and gets messy. The peripheral worries stop their ominous lurking and barge in forcibly causing distress and upset. The fears and the negativity start to swell until there's no room for the good stuff. I stand, fists clenched, looking downward and inward instead of upwards and outwards and I don't see you. Because my head and my heart and my hands are full of ...stuff... I am unable to take the treasures that you're holding out to me. 

The head full of stuff needs to be sorted through regularly. Daily. Twice daily, even. 

My day goes better when I do this, and yet time and time again I find myself engaged in trivia instead of the vital time with you each day. I amaze myself, I really do. There are the old culprits that seduce me - sleep, Facebook and Twitter, the Internet and a huge stack of books, but apathy and weariness also play a part. I know these days that I will feel brighter, more focused, more energised; much less defeated if I recharge my batteries with you.

I draw strength from solitude and peace. I have friends who are enlivened by people and who actively seek company when they're at a low ebb, but if I book my week too full of meetings and chats and get-togethers I find I run out of steam before the end and I am longing to get away, even when I have enjoyed every connection I've made - every cup of coffee and every toasted teacake, laugh and confidence. 

Sometimes I daydream about an escape to a remote cottage in the Hebrides. Just me and the scenery and a sea view and a kettle and a packet of custard creams. And an Internet connection. 

Ha.

I know that you know already that I'm an introvert. I can honestly say that I didn't realise that I was until I did this test. I didn't realise that there was a reason why I sometimes just want to climb in the car and drive away, and keep driving. I am a relatively sociable sort of person but I get to a point when I'm done, thank you, and I need to go. See you later. I'm off to my island for a bit of quiet. To my Hebridean cottage.

I'm like a mesembryanthemum. My petals open in the presence of the sun and then slowly close up as the shade moves around and dusk arrives. Shine on them and they open up once again. I need you like the flowers need the sun, and I feel your warmth most easily when there's just you and me.

I know that you are as present at the party as you are in the silence and solitude, but we are all made differently and some of us find you more easily in one place than another.

I'm just happy that I've understood this about myself, because all manner of things slipped into place the day I realised what was going on. 

What gives me life, what takes life from me. The sort of things I can't wait to do, and the sort of things that I recoil from. The daily tasks that drain me and the ones that fill me so full that I overflow. 

Thank you for the sunshine and the trees and the birds. For the gentle breeze that I feel not only on my skin but blowing through my mind, healing, clearing it of accumulated debris. Leaving it fresher.

For an opportunity to recharge to face whatever the rest of the day throws at me.

I'll meet you here again later. 


11 comments:

  1. Helen - this is beautifully written and i identify with so much of it. I too journal - and it has been the instrument of so much healing. You have made me feel peaceful just by reading this...thank you. Lynn x

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    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you felt peaceful! Long may that feeling last. :-)

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  2. A beautiful outpouring, Helen. Your garden ruminations are lovely. I can almost smell the flowers (and know their names, thanks to Google) and feel the soft grass beneath my feet. Being one who needs a similar approach to life, I can strongly identify with needing to "draw strength from solitude and peace". We need those gentle Holy Spirit breezes blowing through our minds, "healing, clearing it of accumulated debris. Leaving it fresher".
    Isn't it reassuring that God understands us completely and delights in all our infinite complexity and variety? Rather as we delight in the world He has given us. Thank you for sharing your precious garden moments enjoying God's presence with us. I have felt inwardly refreshed reading this. Blessings :) xx

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    1. Thank you, Joy. So reassuring.

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  3. I love your random reference to the packet of custard creams! I would indeed need those, and lots more besides, if I were banished to a cottage in the Hebrides - my worst nightmare, to be alone in all that quiet. I would have to have the radio on.

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    1. Custard creams would definitely be on my desert island essentials list. No question.

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  4. I love this. I need to journal and get completely lost praying without it. I need the solitude as well; during the summer I soak it up and try to store it for the days that are overfilled with people. How lovely.

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    1. Wouldn't be good if you could store it up and fetch it out on those days! Thank you, as ever.

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  5. I, too, need the solitude to make sense of my ramblings. I need to journal as I pray or my ADD takes over. I love this post; it speaks to His gentleness with us and His love in the mess.

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  6. I can't live without my moments of solitude either. I love your words here and how you notice things b/c that is what God does when we slow down with him...he helps us see who we really are...blessings to you friend!

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    1. And to you! Thanks for reading and leaving encouraging words, Dionne. :-)

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