Maybe we should bail on our hike I said to Rob Saturday afternoon. I was tired, have been tired, weary of too many plans, being on the go all the time, and it’s all good, but I was feeling cranky and wishing for a few days with unstructured time. Those are some of my favorite types of days, the ones where we wake up a bit leisurely, in no hurry to exit our bed. Maybe Rob makes us breakfast, steel cut oats with fruit, and then perhaps we ride our cruisers to the farmer’s market where we buy vegetables and coffee from local businesses and then decide to go for a mountain bike ride before coming home to mow the lawn or harvest the garden. It is the very ordinariness of days like this that I live for.
I’m not a girl who craves crowds or group activities or epic experiences. I don’t do well when every moment is planned or is spent planning for the next. I don’t like to compete for attention or struggle to be heard and I start to fold in on myself, feel separate from the universe and shrink to fit the space left by the too-crowded presence of too-many others regardless of how much I love them.
I crave and need moments of empty space, time spent watching a cloud or quietly sitting by a mountain lake. My creative soul is fed this way. Too much time spent with others and not enough solo freedom saps my energy, leaving me dull and empty.
When I was younger, I was encouraged to go out more, to join in more activities, and to get my nose out of a book or if I was at breakfast, to stop reading everything on the cereal box. I preferred to play alone and was often happily lost inside my imagination. I was an outgoing girl in high school, excelling in English and creative writing, but group projects made me feel dumb. I felt stupid because my thoughts didn’t percolate in settings with others, but instead were original and plentiful when I was allowed time alone. My best response to difficult situations usually comes days later. I’ve learned to hold my tongue until then when possible.
I’m over 50 and though I enjoy my friends, there are many moments when I hit the wall and just wish everyone would stop talking, or at the very least, let me sit alone in a corner and be an observer and know that I’m perfectly okay, I’m just done interacting and am replenishing me.
I am fed by nature, the mountains, sea or crisp air of the woods. I am inspired and reinvigorated by the sound of a creek or the sharp yell of the wind. I’ve been known to cry over autumn trees when they begin their show of color or the shadows of late afternoon or while watching seals frolic in the waves. I settle my busy brain with a bike ride or meditate on a rock off my favorite trail or write in my journal, but rarely seek conversation when I’m in the beginning stage of birthing a new idea or figuring stuff out.
I might not like crowds, but I come alive in front of an audience and love to share my stories from the stage. I hate networking because small talk bores the living shit out of me—I want to know the real stories, the deep stuff, the things that make others tick and feel. I love laughter and people who aren’t afraid to cry or show me their imperfections or be real. I can spot bullshit a mile away and am sometimes not quiet about that.
I am normal. I’m just an introvert.
One of the things I love about my future husband is how he knows when his future wife is in need of nature and quiet. He wouldn’t let me bail on our hike despite my exhaustion, knowing that I would be energized by time in the mountains. So we didn’t bail on our hike. We woke before dawn and drove into the mountains and hiked for over ten miles and spent hours by a lake. We were silent. We talked. Our bodies were tired at the end, but we were also blissed out.
And I was ready again.