I don’t think I purposefully intend to be unconventional. In many ways I’m not particularly unique, and I fit into my cultural ecosystem fairly well. But I’m never 100% comfortable, except maybe in the woods or floating on a lake. I think some people would be surprised to learn I am an extreme introvert, and my ratio of alone to social time needs to stay rather imbalanced for my own peace of mind. I’ve tried to mitigate my social awkwardness, but there are moments when I find myself saying something ridiculous or strange because I haven’t accurately assessed the crowd I’m in at the moment. I’m not one to purposefully shake up the world for just the sake of shaking it up, but I certainly am not a subscriber of the status quo. If people are moving in one direction in a herd, I’m inclined to take a different direction.
I don’t necessarily expect anyone to follow my contrary exploration. If I share my findings, I fully expect you to do your own research and journey of discovery. Being a planner, I probably won’t just take your, or anyone’s word for it, unless I really, deeply trust your judgment. And for me to deeply trust you, it’s not you, it’s me; that is going to take a long time, long commitment to our relationship and probably (because I’m getting pretty old) decades of previous collaborated experience. I’m skeptical. Always. I don’t even trust my own judgment all the time and I’ve lived with me for my whole life;). I’m going to test things if I can and those that pass the test, I will hang on to until the next test.
Why I’m even sharing this is somewhat of a mixed deal for me. I’m a very private person, even when people think I’m being very open. I reserve a good portion of my thoughts and feelings for internal reflection, and sometimes, for long journal entries or my solitary walks. I have a theory that most people’s public persona is only the tip of an iceberg of who they really are inside, but maybe that’s because of my own introverted perspective. But maybe you do feel this too. Maybe it frustrates you because you want to be more of what the world seems to expect. The tension can be stressful. I know it stresses me out sometimes. And yet, maybe it’s age, or experience but lately I’ve been trying to embrace the tension rather than wish it would just go away. Part of it is knowing I create some of it simply by choosing a path less popular. I realized recently I’m not very satisfied by things easy to do accomplish. I’m much more willing to do work that is difficult for me even with the specter of failure because if eventually I do reach some measure of competence, it inspires me to continue moving forward.
This all is uncomfortable. But it’s good. Of course, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, especially such when we rely solely on human directed activities. There is a necessity for rest, not only of our physical selves, but also of our minds and hearts (by heart I refer to the Hebrew sense of mind/will/heart). The great irony is the concept of this rest, a Shabbat often seems challenging. For me it lies in my willingness to cease and acknowledge that I am not my own creator or sustainer. I must choose to acknowledge my true, ultimate Creator and Sustainer. On paper it sounds fairly simple to “Honor the Shabbat”. In the reality of everyday living, it gets muddled quite quickly.
And so, this difficult thing which should be simple, is something I wrestle with. My struggle is rather selfish perhaps because I am not confident my struggle is universal. I probably ask too many inconvenient questions, wonder about too many things and just can’t quite follow the crowd without a really good reason. I’m coming around to thinking this struggle might be necessary, at least for me. Maybe it is for you also. In any case, now you know you aren’t alone. May your week be blessed by HaShem and may He give you wisdom as you walk along the way!