It took me a long time to embrace my own personal thought-style. I’ve always been a slow thinker, but for a good part of my adulthood I thought of that as a bad thing. Like if the early bird (someone who’s faster to wake up) gets the worm, where does that leave me?
The older I got the harder it was to embrace my ruminant nature, which is generally the opposite of how we mature. But the digital age popped up in my late 20’s and has been moving exponentially faster ever since. So the older I got, the faster the world moved. I know, this is the eternal lament of the aged, but let me ask this question: Has progress ever progressed this fast before?
Anyway, back to my personal conundrum: As I aged I became less comfortable with the slow nature of my thought process as the world became more instantaneous. But now that I’m just a few weeks from turning a semicentury, I am coming to accept, even embrace my need to ruminate.
Ruminators: The ruminants comprise the cattle, sheep, antelopes, deer, giraffes, and their relatives. Also, a contemplative person; a person given to meditation.
Here’s the thing. I am a slow and meditative thinker. Maybe I even overthink at times, but because of these habits I avoid the mistakes a split-second decision maker make.s
Is it a good trade off? I think so.
But there’s another thing, a bone I have to pick, to be plain. I’m sick of people (society, bosses, salespeople, “thought leaders”) making me feel wrong or less than effective because I’m not comfortable with quick-made decisions. For me quick decisions come under the category: just because I can doesn’t mean I should. I can buy a luxury car today. I can eat a whole bagful of sour cream and onion chips. I can hop on Tinder and find an anonymous hookup. But does that mean I should? Of course not.
The reality is that I can make quick decisions; sometimes they are absolutely necessary. But my nature is to think things through, meditate on them for a while, and then maybe I’m still not comfortable making a choice. Decisions are like good friends: we sit together over coffee, or maybe take a walk together. We throw our feet up and get comfortable. Through all that we learn to understand one and other. What’s so wrong with making decisions this way?
Sure. I know a decision isn’t a friend, in the physical sense, but who says I can’t think of it as one?
I had a dream, once, that I was a spontaneous woman. Sadly, in my waking moments I’m a consummate ruminator. I tend to think over my next move, my next word, my next thought even, for a long time. Spontaneity is not my strong suit. That fact usually doesn’t bother me, but every once in a while it feels like a character flaw.
Steve, on the other hand, is my polar opposite when it comes to spontaneity. Rarely does he think about words before they come out of his mouth. It’s gotten him in trouble more than once, but I still see it as a great boon, personality-wise. Even if he does inadvertently hurt my feelings on occasion, or sometimes say things that are incredibly offensive, he’s just as quick and ready with an apology.
The thing is, he is also the most spontaneously generous person I know. So spontaneous, as a matter of fact, that it could be completely accidental.
I’m okay with that.
Here’s an example: Steve and I were sitting together in our spa (which we call the bubbly tub) on a recent afternoon and he suddenly popped out with “Hey! You have some gray hairs growing there,” as he pointed to my forehead. Before you go thinking something like well that’s not exactly a sweet compliment let me add a couple of important details. First, I’ve had gray hairs growing here and there for about 6 years. Also, his hair is at the 70:30 gray vs. brown point, so it’s not as though he were jeering at my oldness. Also, also, as soon as the words came out of his mouth, he said “I like them! They look nice!”
Is the generosity part evident yet? Maybe not, so let me elaborate. It literally took him years to notice in me the one physical characteristic we most immediately associate with old age. Years! He sees me every day, in all kinds of weather, too. Sunshine has surely glinted off my scattered gray hairs more than once in his presence. But it took him that long to notice.
(here’s me stepping onto my soapbox)
I like to feel pretty. Americans don’t consider any sign of aging attractive and I am, sometimes unfortunately, a product of my society. In spite of that, I’ll sport my gray hairs proudly and reframe my definition of “pretty” to include them. Not because Steve likes them, though. No. I proudly wear my aging because it is important to recognize and celebrate me at every age.
(this is me stepping off that soapbox)
Even more recently, Steve surprised me with another spontaneously generous blurt. He and I are currently cutting calories to lose weight (I am purposely avoiding the term dieting. Dieting is BAD). I am, to reiterate the point, a product of my upbringing though, and in the 70’s and 80’s we dieted. I struggle to move away from that mindset, but it still pokes me in the ribs on occasion.
Also in the 80’s, process and progress were unimportant. We were only happy when the scales displayed our goal weight and not before. Anyway, two days ago, I weighed myself just out of the shower and told Steve, with what was certainly a disheartened look on my face, “I only lost four pounds.” And before I could breathe my next breath, he said, “That’s a lot. Think of how big a four pound roast is!”
How sweet and generous is that?? He immediately, spontaneously, accidentally displaced my disappointment with a happy sense of relief. I imagined strapping a four pound roast to my belly and YES it is a lot of weight! As a matter of fact, it’s 1/10th of my overall goal and that’s not nothing.
I’m lucky to have someone in my life who accidentally makes me feel loved and good about myself, yes? I sure wish there were times that I could spontaneously make Steve feel good about himself in much the same way. Everything in life is a trade-off, though. I’m not spontaneous, so that will probably never happen. Instead, I should keep this in mind: it’s likely that I give Steve other kinds of unintended boosts when he needs them. I sure hope so, anyway, because the chances that I’ll become a spontaneous person are about as likely as the chances that I’ll choose to basejump off El Capitan.
There’s about a 0.00000000001% chance of that happening, in case you were wondering.