Aug 27, 2008

oh, the places you'll go

Lately, I've been waking up at strange hours of the night. For no particular reason. Usually from some strange dream. I lie in bed, staring blankly in to the darkness and thinking unimportant, sleepy thoughts. And then all of a sudden I'm blindsided by a fact. Just creeps up silently and springs over me. Lissa, you have no idea whether or not anything you experience is real. Everything you feel could be an illusion. The people you know could be figments of your imagination and you could be horribly, horribly alone. Or, Lissa, you have no idea what your purpose in life is. Or, Lissa, it is actually possible that everybody who says they love you is lying.

Um, what the heck? These are thoughts you need full body armor to confront, even at high noon in the best of circumstances. But half-awake and chilly in the middle of the night? You've got to be kidding me. It's impossible.

Seriously, what do you DO about that? Here I am, living my life. I get up, I do my thing. Once in a while I do something abstract and complicated and I call it "success". Once in a while I do something abstract and complicated and people are unhappy with me and I feel horrible. The things that I do are so incredibly specific to my situation, this ridiculously engineered existence that I live. It's incredibly hard to make any sense of it. In order to know if anything I'm doing is worthwhile, I suppose I'd first have to know if humanity is worthwhile, then if civilization is worthwhile, and so on with education and music and love and friendship and engineering, all the way to whatever my latest dilemma is. About something like whether or not I've called my grandmother recently enough. It's dizzying.

Of course I want to be right. I want it to turn out, in the end, that I did the right thing with my life. But the energy it takes to face up to the task of determining whether or not I'm on the right track is too much for me to handle. (Humor me here. I know I'm 22. But you never know what's gonna happen tomorrow.) So I lie there in bed and I just wipe away those thoughts. I tell myself that my senses do not deceive me, that my existence is real. That my life will be made purposeful if I live it well and that I should not hope for anything more. That I am not as alone as I feel. That it will be ok in the morning. I have no proof, but there are lies you have to tell yourself... there are things you cannot face alone.

When I wake up, and the sun is streaming in the windows and I can hear my housemates up and about in the rest of the house, and I can see B sleeping soundly right next to me, the world is a whole lot friendlier. But it does leave me with a feeling much like jet lag. I feel as though I've been away a long, long time. I sit at the breakfast table. My friends filter in. I'm so relieved. They seem so real in the bright sun. I want to jump up and hug them and tell them I made it out safely and how glad I am to see them again. But this seems silly and unwarranted. I eat my toast and smile.

Aug 12, 2008

a survey

I don't know about you, but sometimes I go on internet-quiz binges. I'm most likely to take a lot of ridiculous quizzes like "which vegetable do you most resemble" (ooh, I hope I'm broccoli, the green tree of awesome!) or "which famous detective are you" (Sherlock? please?). However, once in a great while, I get serious. Today it's chilly and rainy and I've got lots of time, so...

There are a lot of different versions of the Myers Briggs Personality type tests on the internet. I often find the test questions nearly impossible to answer. For example,'s test asks whether you are more likely to "say things as they are" or "avoid conflict" in conversation. My goal is to do both! Similarly, the test asks whether I process information through "my 5 senses" or "my intuition". As far as I'm concerned, intuition and sensory perception are completely intertwined. Your intuition comes from noticing things - a posture, a tone of voice, a glance. I tend to find the tests frustrating.

So this morning, while feeling philosophical, I decided to take 6 different Myers Briggs tests. (, Human Meterics, Kisa, Personality Pathways, Similar Minds, and Know Your Type.) Are they consistent? Totally bogus? Does changing one answer give you a completely different result?

Apparently not! On all 6 tests, I came up INFJ (also see this, this, and this). Then I went back and retook each test, changing the answers to the questions on which I was completely split. The result: 3 tests came up INTJ. Two stayed INFJ. And the last came up INTP. These particular changes were not surprising. Some of the tests show you to what degree you are, say, Introverted instead of Extroverted, or Intuitive versus Sensing. For the first two letters of my type, I always scored very strongly "IN" (Introverted Intuitive), but the last two letters, T/F and J/P, the scores are more middle-of the road. Therefore it makes sense that, overall, changing the answers that I struggled with resulted most often in a switch from F (Feeling) to T (Thinking) and, slightly less often, in a switch from J (Judging) to P (Perceiving).

I have to conclude that there *is* consistency in these results. In all 6 tests, there were quite a few questions that I felt I couldn't answer truthfully, but in all cases, the answer I eventually chose, even while finding it inadequate, lead to the INFJ personality type. The INFJ type does, I feel, describe me fairly well, but as I read through it, I thought that several particular things were missing. Those qualities - broadly, interest in logic and technology and interest in math and language play - are hallmarks of the INTJ and INTP types, respectively. Even more interestingly, from the point of view of the INFJ, the INTJ and INTP represent "Companion" and "Compliment", respectively. (Other types represent "Neighbor", "Counterpart", "Contrast", "Cohort", "Pedagogue" and so on.)

I think it's probably rare that any one person feels totally comfortable being described by 1 and only 1 type. I think I'll call myself 70% INFJ, 20% INTJ, and 10% INTP. Wait - scratch that. Can I be Type Broccoli? Or The Next Sherlock?

Aug 10, 2008

Why I Love Brightwater

When you get out of the car, this is the very first thing you see.

The trails around the cabin are covered in centuries of pine needles. On the springy pine needles, you can run almost silently.

This trail takes you to the top of Wildcat Ledge, from which you can listen to the ocean.

On the top of Wildcat Ledge is a flat forest completely carpeted in moss a full foot deep.

If you walk silently through the woods, you're likely to see a deer or a fox.

Back at the cabin, Harmony rocks at her mooring on a still afternoon. The mast makes a lovely clinking noise.

The sunsets can be spectacular.

Like lava in the sky!