Friday, October 20, 2023



My daughter Kerala/s favorite book is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. My daughter Talia’s favorite book is The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters by Priya Parker. Both choices speak worlds about their characters. 


Kerala is indeed an introvert who moves in a very small social circle and Talia, an extrovert who has so many friends I can’t keep track of them. Kerala felt herself well described, seen, known and valued in Susan Cain’s book and Talia got ideas as to how to make her intuitive “life of the party” self yet more consciously the person who makes the parties more fun and engaging.


I read both books and felt affirmed by both of them. My writer/ Zen meditator self is an inward looking fellow while my teacher/musician self is hosting the party and happily so. If I had to choose on which side of the line I belong, I might claim the introvert side. I both cherish and need the time to write and read and practice piano alone and in my last four days with nothing on my calendar, I’ve done all three in the morning and then walked alone in the park each afternoon. And been perfectly happy doing it all. 


By contrast, my wife Karen is a card-carrying extrovert. If we meet neighbors on the street, I’m fine greeting them, but am ready to keep moving way before she is. And for years walking out the school gate together, I was already at the car while she was still chatting with parents she passed. So I suspect my default setting is more on the introvert side. If there’s a movie out I want to see and my wife doesn’t, I’m just fine going alone to the movie theater. And while my social self gets well-exercised teaching Orff workshops here, there and everywhere, I enjoy spending the evening alone in the hotel room.


At the same time, I do like connecting with people. These past four days in my walk in the park, I’ve stopped to practice cornhole and if someone asked to play with me, I’d happily accept (though no one has—perhaps they saw me get four out of five in the hole and backed away!). Yesterday, I played one of the pianos out in the park and someone came and joined in on trumpet and wasn’t that delightful! And last night I played poker with four other guys and enjoyed myself immensely— especially having put $20 in the pot to buy my chips and walking away with $45 at the end of the night! Today is a Men’s Group meeting and then playing for the folks at the Jewish Home—and then another solitary walk.


Do we need a new category? An ambivert?* Someone equally at home and equally inclined toward both? Of course, we all probably cross back and forth across the lines. Talia often backpacks alone and has more than her share of solitude living alone. Kerala gets plenty of social time raising her kids. Karen has her share of alone-time working in the garden or in her basement art studio. We all are a mixture of the solitary and the social, but it is interesting and perhaps, important, to claim yourself as one or the other—or perhaps both?


Where are you on the spectrum?

* Thanks to Susan Kennedy for suggesting the more proper term than the "bi-vert" one I initially made up and posted. Ambivert is actually a legitimate word!

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