Two things combine that frequently cause me to experience life in a very different way. The first is, my introverted side. Spending time alone, just me, my God, my thoughts and my study. The second is, my extroverted side. Spending time out and about, interacting with other people.
My introverted side glories in the study, the writing, the reading, the planning, the dreaming and the visioning. Life, from my introverted side, is all about possibility, imagination and ideas. It is all about life as clay that can and will be shaped and re-shaped.
My extroverted side glories in personalities and perspectives. The conversations, the insights, the fears and dreams of others. My extroverted side is all about walking with others, in light of their possibilities, ideas and perspectives. It is all about the clay that is shaped and reshaped that makes up the lives of those around me.
Combine all of this with the fact that I find extreme comfort in patterns, routines, rituals and schedules. Meaning that I schedule and plan for my introverted days and my extroverted days. Both of which I look forward to, but in entirely different ways. Occasionally, I do find myself more immersed in one dimension of my life than the other. Just like this week.
I found myself leaning very heavily toward my introverted side. I spent an entire day reading, writing, planning and dreaming. It was a glorious experience. I think partially because I wasn’t feeling 100%, which allowed me to immerse myself into anything but the current reality of what or who was around me.
This experience was so immersive that the next day, a day that I had to be extroverted, I found it hard to make the transition. I was driving to work, but it was as if I was dreaming. I knew that life was happening all around me, but it was as if I was watching it on a big IMAX screen. Being that I was still feeling a little under the weather, and my mother had always taught me to drink plenty of liquids if I didn’t feel good, I stopped at a local WaWa in order to get a drink.
I picked up a drink and of course I had to get a package of those little chocolate doughnuts that were just sitting there on the shelf, calling out my name. As I approached the checkout I made eye contact with an older gentleman who would be helping me. His name tag shared, with all who would bother to read it, that he was Sal.
So many thoughts went through my mind in that instant. Why was this older gentleman working at WaWa? I had a neighbor named Sal in elementary school. Do I really need these little chocolate doughnuts? We made eye contact and I said “Good morning”. Sal smiled and asked if I had survived the storm from the night before? Not knowing what storm to which he was referring, and not wanting to make a big deal out of it, I simply said “Yes”.
Well, I then learned that Sal just moved down from Long Island and that he had never experienced anything like a Florida summertime thunder-boomer of a storm before. He told me how he didn’t sleep at all because the thunder rolled so deeply he thought the walls of his house were going to cave in. In that moment I was whisked away from my introverted, IMAX view of the world and right into Sal’s world. A new home in a new state with new weather and, what I figured, was also a new job.
In that moment Sal connected me back to the world. All-be-it the world according to Sal’s perspective, but the world outside of me, none-the-less. His simple nature and cute conversation about the weather snapped me out of it, whatever the it I happened to be in. As I picked up my drink and doughnuts he told me to stay dry and I began my walk toward the front doors and my awaiting car.
In that moment life became richer and full of color. The people around me seemed more alive. Life was happening and I wasn’t merely watching it. I was living in it. I smiled like I just won the lottery or something. All the way to work I enjoyed those little chocolate doughnuts and my drink. And I thought of Sal.
I thought about his life, his new home and his new job. I wondered if there was or had been a Mrs. Sal? When I arrived at work I realized that I had moved from introvert to extrovert. I was ready to park my car and interact with others. Thank you, Sal. For today, you woke me up.