… on the downside of labels
April 08, 2020
My Inner Introvert is being bullied…
By my Oppositional Reflex.
It’s like they are both sitting in the back seat of my brain (which, in this case, bears a striking resemblance to a 1973 Ford Country Squire station wagon with fake wood siding), and my Inner Introvert is screaming “Stop touching me!” at the top of her lungs.
My Oppositional Reflex can be a real jerk.
So here’s the thing.
My oft-preferred, and very contented, state of being involves hanging out at home, away from people, and exploring my brain’s inner spaces.
The Government has commanded me to stay away from people, not leave my home, and hang out – just me and my brain – for, perhaps, ever.
So now I don’t want to do it.
That is my Oppositional Reflex at work. He is, as near as I can tell, the emotional age of 3.24 (maybe 3.23… I’ll rerun the numbers).
The problem – aside from, you know, a global pandemic – is that said Government has taken my ‘alone time’ and labelled it. Also, they’ve gone ahead and chosen several labels, exactly none of them sounding remotely friendly. They are large and shapeless and pretty much the big grey cinder blocks of labels…
SHELTERING IN PLACE!
So now, even though she is looking at hours and days and weeks on end without the need to come up with even one excuse to extract herself from the commitments she made when she felt like an extrovert, my Inner Introvert is not excited. And that has a lot to do with the fact that my Oppositional Reflex is taunting stuff like, ”Nah, nah, nah-nah-nah, your Me Time is now called quar-an-tine!”
Don’t get me wrong.
I – and my Inner Introvert, and even my Oppositional Reflex – are all in on being responsible for ourselves and respectful of our fellow humans’ places and spaces and beings while we figure out the plan going forward during, you know, a worldwide pandemic.
We also know – due to logic and stuff – that those labels are just that: Labels.
And, yet, each time we heard them or saw them, my Oppositional Reflex would start misbehaving.
Something had to be done.
When the moment presented itself, I quietly pulled my Inner Introvert aside.
“If,” I asked her “you had discovered these weeks – weeks free of your everyday appointments and obligations – at any other time in your life, you would have been ecstatic. You would have talked about photographic or writing retreats, to taking your time to go through the decades of old pictures, writings, and kept treasures inside the boxes in the loft of the barn, or…” And I shrugged my shoulders and held my arms wide. The world was her oyster (a phrase I never understood but it felt right to use it here).
“You can do all of that, and more, right now.” I told her.
“Your only job is to keep yourself safe, and keep those around you safe, as you stay out of the way of those experienced and equipped to be on the front lines of this particular battle. You have no control – absolutely none – over what is happening, or when it ends.”
“So?” she wondered.
“What do you want to do with this found time?” I asked her.
And then, as the idea began to permeate, I put it another way.
“What will you be sad that you didn’t do with this gift of time, once it has passed?”
My Inner Introvert looked up, and smiled.
Oh. Uh, no.
It wasn’t a sweet, innocent smile… and read it exactly right.
She grabbed my hand and we rushed to find my Oppositional Reflex and, when we did, we pounced… and wrestled him down the hall and into one of the cages I have at the back of my brain, for these very situations.
And that’s where he sits, right now, gnawing on the bars, as my Inner Introvert and I map out our plan for what we want to do with this precious gift of time.
Don’t worry, my Oppositional Reflex has a nice soft bed and I’ll be sure to feed him, ensuring he keeps up his strength.
I mean, at some point (and probably soon), someone’s bound to tell me that I can’t learn something or do something or be something I really want to learn or do or be…
And I’ll take a mental walk down the hall to his cage and pop the latch and he’ll be free. Just like that.
And then I will pray, with all my might…
That he actually stays focused this time.
Stay safe. Stay connected. Be well.
And thanks for readin’.
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