After moving up to Portland, and into a house with no internet access, I’ve found myself visiting lots of cafes, bookstores, pubs, etc for my emailing and surfing pleasure. But the quality of experience (food, throughput, cost, etc) vary greatly. I started making a list of places I’ve been and the general experiences. You can find it under the projects section, or linked here.
I went to a BBQ out on a farm this weekend and had a great time. They had a couple of horses and I took one for a ride. I’m not much of a rider yet, and can count the number of times I’ve ridden on two hands, but I do love it.
Horses are beautiful, beautiful animals. The coolest part is that of all the horses I’ve ridden, each one has a unique personality, style, likes/dislikes, and temperament.
Recently I was talking with a good friend about what has so captured and enamored me about horseback riding since I started about a year or so ago. One of the difficult things for me in CPE and life in general is to just live through and let my emotions really speak to me. To live my emotions and not just ‘work through’ them. There is always a fear that one’s emotions can get the best of you – anger, tears, or attractions might overpower you and make you do things you shouldn’t.
Now there are plenty of people in the world that this is true of – and they need to learn how to use their heads when encountering the power of their emotions. But for others, it’s the other problem – we live shallowly because we do not let our emotions really speak to us. I’ve learned this at CPE as the power of others emotions can wash over and into you – and you share in that place with them. This experience is what I think about each time I ride a horse. When I saddle up and get on, I marvel at the wonder of it. Here I am on an animal that is a 1000 times stronger than I. It could throw me, run off with me, or just do whatever it wants in general. Yet, it chooses to follow my lead – within its own temperaments of course. As you travel through the terrain, horses subtly pick out their own footings and paths. You can direct him, give encouragement and reprimands as needed – yet he is really the power that takes you where you’re going. There is a gentle surrendering of the details to the power of the riding that will get you there. I have begun to see my own emotions that way. If I learn to let them be the power that I ride – to let them just be – I live life so much more fully. It brings so much more richness to my relationships, friendships, and living of each moment.
While there is some fear that my emotions might get the best of me, one of the other supervisors told a couple of us: “Don’t worry. You’re so in control in your head, you’ve got a long way to go before you’d go overboard. So just let it go for a while. You’ll learn the edges in time.”
Time to go riding
I was having a talk with my CPE supervisor about the very real difficulty people have talking about their affective (emotional) selves – especially in the traumatic events people go through at the hospital. We often do not have a proper language with which to talk about what is going on inside us. This becomes very apparent when we experience the death of a loved one, a traumatic accident, or a debilitating illness. Things happen within us that we are often unable to describe. We start getting at them by using words like sadness, frustration, anger, fear, hopelessness, etc.
I have noticed this is a problem that is particularly acute in men (including myself). There is little forum for men to really learn how to build or use a language of communicating their affective states. This is particularly acute in people that are very intellectual or try to ‘think’ their way through their emotions and not ‘live’ through them. He saw this pattern and said something that I’ve been spending some time pondering: “The real challenge for you is going to be learning how to think with your heart and feel with your head.”
This selection was from the book entitled “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Michael Smith, Brennan Manning, and Rich Mullins. I think it says everything by itself:
“…all the best gifts come from the loving hearts of men and women who aren’t trying to impress anyone, even themselves, and who have won freedom precisely because they have stopped trying to trap life into paying them back for the good they do.”
Every first Thursday of the month, Portland opens its art galleries for visitors to look and have wine/cheese. It becomes a big walking fest between galleries, shops, and usually ends with people eating at the nicer restaurants in the Perl district.
I went last night and it was a beautiful weather – lots of people walking around and talking. I especially like the little independent booth shops on a section of blocks they close off for artists who just plop down and start playing music or selling stuff they have made. I find the street displays the most interesting and they are run by students, local folks, or just dabblers who make all kinds of creations. One of the interesting things to observe is the pretentious some of these art shows (and those that attend them) can become.
It’s amazing to me how almost laughably dressed and self-important some of the visitors and artists become. While I’m no pro, my hobby has been in photography and I have sold some of my work before so I went in to see a photo show but it left me extremely unimpressed. If I had given a child a camera for 5 minutes and let them run around underexposing/blurring/overexposing stuff I would have gotten the same outcome. While I have seen good modern photography that is really cool, when I think of masterful work I think of someone who has so mastered the techniques and principles of their medium (techniques and properties of their paint, photo process, musical technique, etc) that they have transcend just getting images down on a merely functional level (simply being able to portray something).
Masterful artisans have so integrated the techniques of their medium that they are beyond the functional and can manipulate the emotional responses that those functional elements can create. The artist can create a deep feeling or truth about reality/the human condition/truth of life/love/etc. But when you have something that looks on all levels like it failed at even the functional level (ie. looks like they didn’t even know how to use a camera) it is really hard for me to get over that to the transcendent level of communication. I need to see in the work that the person has a mastery of the functional process before I can believe their violation of those principles was intentional or just putting on the facade of great talent (i.e. can they even take really beautiful photos of ‘normal’ stuff?).
I have seen work and artists that can pull me into that transcendent experience; but it happens so much less often with works that are focused on form alone as the communicative element. I hate sounding like an old fogie, but man, some classical works can, and still do, bring tears to my eyes. It’s been a long time since I’ve had form-based art do that for me.
Yet, there is a lot of joy in walking around with those that try and are learning to hone those skills – I for one greatly enjoy the creative and imaginative hearts they have. I’ll certainly keep going and learning from these creative souls; it’s just that it is so silly when one thinks they are much better at what the do than they really are. A healthy humility goes a long way in keeping us striving and yearning for bettering ourselves and our work whether it be art or our lives of loving others.
The Myers-Briggs personality profile test is probably one of the most widely known and used tests. One of it’s 4 metrics is I(ntroverted) vs. E(xtroverted). It may not come as too much of a shock that I come out very I(ntroverted).
I always saw this as meaning that introverted people didn’t enjoy being around other people but preferred to be solitary. I have recently learned that this anti-social trait is not what this metric points to at all. Instead, it simply means that one processes emotionally/mentally/spiritually what is happening to them in an internal way (internal dialog with the self vs working it out with others). It doesn’t mean that the person is in any way anti-social. In fact, a person could be a very big people-person; yet be extremely introverted. Even more interesting is the realization that the commonly understood anti-social aspect is actually an unhealthy expression of introvertedness if one is too solitary or feels alone in their emotional/mental/spiritual work or lack good social skills.
Being afraid of others, afraid of risk in relationships, desiring to escape into controlled worlds of our own making (addictions to computer games, pornography, alcohol, and many others are good examples), afraid of socializing, or adversity to other people isn’t suppose to be what an introverted person is at all. I realized this because I recently met a very integrated and healthy introverted person in my work here at the hospital. What surprised me about this person was that he is a very public minister of almost 20 years; yet is extremely introverted – probably more so than me. Yet, he saw that introvertedness as a tool for his work with himself, his family, and the people he met; not a hindrance. For him, understanding his own introvertedness allowed him to help others process how tragedy, joy, hope, or fear felt or worked internally on a person. He could very accurately and amazingly zero right in on what sorts of things were going on inside himself and others when they were going through all kinds of life-changing events (both good and bad) by how it was affecting the internal workings of the person (mind/emotions).
When we go through a difficult time; sometimes emotions can well up and overwhelm us for what seems to be no real reason. Other times, we have an experience that rocks our life – to the point we can’t work or eat or sleep – but we don’t know why we are in that state – or how to process or recognize the emotions that are underneath it. What this guy showed me, what healthy, integrated introverted people can bring, is how one can make sense of life events by being very attuned to the internal state(s) these events bring. Yet are mature enough not to become slaves to those internal states. It helps them recognize when things are happening to them or others from an internal psychological/emotional/spiritual standpoint and then process through them. This is in contrast to extroverts who might have the same experiences but can only work them out in the interactions and in the context of other people. Both are equally healthy and functional ways of processing what happens in our lives. Yet, both methods are simply the starting points of our natures. If one simply stays in those modes (introverted people who pull into self-centeredness/away from necessary and healthy relationships with others or extroverted people who losing their personal responsibility for actions or identity by always referring it to others), it becomes unhealthy and destructive.
Which one are you? How do you processes what happens in your life? Have you really become healthy and integrated in that expression? Can you step beyond your initial tendency to embrace to the larger reality of how that is just the first step in a two-part process
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