one lousy moment times six
Saturday, January 31, 2009
I was leaning over my desk at The Dallas Morning News, jotting something on a legal pad. Waltrina came over, leaned in close, and said quietly, “Stan passed away this morning.” Whatever I was writing trailed to a scribble.
I arrived at the hospital to visit Kevin as I had every day since he went in. As I reached for the door to his room, a young orderly stopped me. “You don’t want to go in there,” he said.
Tom picked me up at the airport after my trip to London and we went straight to the hospital. Russell’s friends and family were gathered around his bed. I stood near the foot of the bed, between Tom and Russell’s young niece, whom he adored. We all had hands on Russell. I don’t recall the ventilator being turned off but Russell hung on a minute longer. “Let go,” I whispered, and his niece turned and said sharply, “What?” I guess she thought I was talking to her. A moment later, it was over.
I was sleeping on Monte’s couch when my cell phone rang. I got up to answer it, knowing what it was. “Mom died this morning,” my brother said.
My brother, his girlfriend and I were sitting on the couch in my parents’ apartment watching a Saturday Night Live special. My brother’s cell phone rang. It was the hospital where my dad was. I met my brother’s eyes. He nodded.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Socially acceptable, I say? Smoking?
Yep, in our extroverted society, saying you need a cigarette is more socially acceptable than saying you need to escape because you really don't think the more is the merrier and your head might explode from one more minute of tedious chit-chat,.
That's how introverts like me feel at parties.
Similarly, psychologist Laurie Helgoe, who wrote the new book Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, says that several people she has seen in her practice who struggle with alcohol said they would not drink as much if they weren't trying to push against introversion. It's not just that alcohol is a social lubricant, says Helgoe. "It's also such a drain on self-esteem to be in this situation where you're supposed to be enjoying something but you're not."
American introverts face a lot of pressure to fight our nature. We are told not only that American is an extroverted society (not true—Helgoe has found that introverts are, in fact, the majority) but that extroversion is a better, more effective way to operate. Get out of the house! Press flesh! Stop with the email and pick up the phone, ya big loser!
But we don't really want to.
The difference between extraversion and introversion is not that the former are good at socializing and the latter aren't. It's that extroverts are outwardly focused and draw energy from social interactions while introverts are inwardly focused and drained by interactions. Introverts tend to think deeply and slowly, we prefer one-on-one interactions to big groups and conversation about ideas to gossipy chitchat. We require a lot of time alone. We don't like parties. A lot of us don't like the phone and find e-mail to be a godsend.
We don't suffer social anxiety. We just prefer solitude, given a choice.
Maybe we don't sound like much fun to extroverts. But it's time we stop succumbing to extroverted pressure to change our ways, not just because it's healthier for those of us who choose bad habits over party chit-chat, but also because if we exhaust ourselves fighting our nature, we will be too tired to contribute to the world in our very important way.
Introverts are generators of fresh ideas. Brain scans show that introverts' brains stay much busier at all times than the brains of extroverts, which is why we are easily overwhelmed by too much external stimulation. Introverts have a much greater tolerance—in fact, are drawn to—the fertile void, that quiet place where the most creative thinking happens. Famous creative-thinking introverts include Albert Einstein, Steven Spielberg, Charles Darwin, Warren Buffett, Carl Jung, Katharine Hepburn, Isaac Newton and Friedrich Nietzsche.
And our ability to be alone and think independently means we are unlikely to be swayed by social pressure or groupthink. Introverts' ideas might initially be mocked by the masses (If you sit under trees daydreaming, crap falls on your head! What's the big deal?) but these are the ideas that break through and change paradigms, once the extroverts stop laughing.
And, in a world that gets louder and more full of chatter, we particularly need fresh and unusual ideas to succeed in business—the purple cows, to use marketing guru Seth Godin's term.
"Mass marketing no longer works and that tends to be an outward, in your face, extrovert kind of approach," says Helgoe. "What Seth Godin says is that when the quality is built into the product, it sells itself. Purple cow refers to novel ideas, really cooking up something brilliant internally and then putting it out there, rather than the hit-or-miss approach. Introverts hold our cards close to our chest and we can be good at assessing where you're going to get the most bang for the buck."
So you see, fighting introversion is a waste of energy that can be put to better use. Why be an introvert? First of all, you have no choice. Second, it's a good way to be, no matter what extrovert propaganda tells you. Third, smoking is bad for you.
Monday, January 26, 2009
i have so many questions
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Bad ad du jour: How big is this couch? How big is this house? How small are these people? Why are they so far away from each other? Is romance dead? How much does that coffee table weigh?
good news in sophieland
Thursday, January 8, 2009
My new blog, with my buddy Jenna Schnuer (of the Haiku Diaries) went live today on the excellent travel site, World Hum (part of the Travel Channel). Please visit soon and often!
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Primitive as this is, here we have a short video from my early filmmaking career--back in December 2008.
My favorite part is the "atta boy." I said it but I didn't really mean it.
plunging right in to 2009 griping
It feels odd that I have done no kind of 2008 wrap up or 2009 somethingorother. But it’s too late for any of that and besides, I don’t have much to say.
I’ve been informed via Twitter by a high n mighty journalist that bloggers should keep their damn New Year’s resolutions to themselves because nobody is interested and who do they think they are? (To paraphrase.) So even if I had New Year’s resolutions, which I don’t, I wouldn’t write about them.
It’s funny though—high n mighty journalists are quick to tell other writers that nobody cares what they think and yet the man-on-the-street (or in-the-living-room) interview is considered key to a properly reported news story. Do I really care that that Elizabeth Gross of Lake Highlands hosted a dinner party candlelight last night, when the power was out in Dallas?
Hm. Not really. (Although I did like her remark about how everybody looked young.) So why are the personal experiences of writers considered self-indulgent while the personal experiences of other people are considered news? (To be fair, the journalist under discussion says he has no objection to personal writing as long as it’s not too personal.)
One great thing about man-on-the-street interviews is that they can be unintentionally hilarious. My favorite was in a TV news story about daylight savings time. One anti-daylight-savings-time woman-on-the-street opined, “I just don’t think they should be messing with God’s time.”
What time zone do you think God lives in?
What do you think about all this? Do the resolutions of bloggers hold any interest to you? What about man-on-the-street interviews?
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