Monday, March 16, 2009


It is nearly impossible for me to read one book at a time. I inherited the need to read 2 or 3(or more), simultaneously, from my father. Also the tendency to speed read, read from back to front, and not finish a book if it suddenly bores me, regardless of how far into it I am. These traits were passed through the gene pool as surely as the shade of my eyes. My mother is waiting for the Book Police to haul Dad and I in for Failure to Finish Fiction (a non fiction failure is more serious). Currently, I am reading three very different books: Leave It To Chance (look for a review of this horse story soon); Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers; and, a true gem, Party of One--The Loner's Manifesto. A bibliophile, I especially love books that affirm my sense of self. Forget "Your Best You"(not on my reading list, in case you were wondering), I am my best me according to this unusual and delightful book by Anneli Rufus. Turns out oddball loners are not such a bad lot (the "lot" including Einstein, Dickinson, and Thoreau). I am embracing my inner me.

Throughout my life I have often felt alone but rarely, in fact, lonely. As a teen I occasionally went to movies and coffee shops alone. This was not because I had no friends but because I am invigorated by solitary moments. This fact is the essential difference between introverts and extroverts. Prior to marrying (young) and having children, I spent hours alone. Mostly reading and considering life as I knew it. Early writing exercises involved filling journals with overly dramatic, angst-filled poetry. We won't go there. As a grown woman I hoard moments/hours alone like an alcoholic hoards booze. Yes, I feel guilty about it. I am a mother, after all.

God, in his infinite wisdom (and wild sense of humor....gonna talk to Him about that), paired me with the most extreme extrovert in the universe--my wonderful husband. We consider our differences as one might examine an unusual and endangered insect under a microscope--check that out...Weird! After being married 15 years, we accept each others differences, even if we don't always understand them. It so happens we each have a child to relate to. This is funny and enlightening. A"Mini Me" to consider (though my son is not so mini these days). We have video of my son--described as an "old soul" when he was a toddler--sitting by himself on a sandy beach. Instead of playing raucously with the other toddlers he sits off by himself, carefully considering the sand spilling from his plastic shovel. My daughter, on the other hand, is always ready for action. She loves people and has friends galore. She is funny, charming, and usually "in your face." I suspect she will be the type of girl I admired, and felt eternally estranged from, in highschool.

My son and I understand each others need for space. We do not force the other to talk or be charming. We are comfortable plinking on our respective computers and meeting later for a quiet lunch. Occasionally we are talkative. This descends upon us like the flu--initially dramatic but ultimately overcome. My daughter is frustrated by the loners in the house. She adopts what I call The Favorites Game, when there is lack of conversation. This is meant to force interaction--Mommy, what's your favorite food, your favorite color, your favorite car? What's your second favorite, your least favorite, your...... She could talk Eskimos into buying ice.

While reading Rufus's book, I realized my loner tendencies are perfectly suited to life as a horseman. While plenty of extroverts own horses, the pursuit of horsemanship is tailor made for the introvert. Achieving "feel"--a term master horsemen refer to--is only developed from a lifetime of watching and working with horses by yourself. Nobody can give it to you. It is not developed en mass or understand cooperatively. This more than suits me. And I've never understood the need of the extrovert to have someone to ride with. Even less understood is the feeling that he/she cannot ride unless they have a partner. I have a partner. A beautiful, subtle, expressive yet mostly mute beast who doesn't drain me emotionally but rather soothes my spirit. When I was younger some of the sweetest moments on horseback were those spent alone, my horse lipping up crab apples while I lay prone on his back and considered the clouds floating above me. Sadly, though I often ride alone in safe environments, I rarely ride the trail "less traveled" by myself. Even with my other partner, Magnum (357), it is best for me to play it safe these days. But one day, in heaven, I will choose a noble horse and spend hours exploring some beautiful mountainous area. There is nothing like it.

It is great fun to consider the differences in my two horses, one decidedly an introvert and other an expressive extrovert. Tango, like my previous bay Arabian gelding Sunfire, is full of mischief and mayhem. He is a very vocal horse who wears his heart on his sleeve and abhors boredom. A fate worse than death is not a bit of work but a bit of boring work. Tango has been known to hold sticks in his mouth and hit his pasture-mate repeatedly until they noticed him (even discipline for insubordination will do). When I've kept him alone, he watches for me constantly, lounging in the corner nearest the kitchen window and nickering the moment I open the door. If I venture into the field he is on me like flies get the picture---What's your favorite hay, your favorite saddle, your favorite trail; your second favorite, your least favorite.....

Eli, on the other hand, is content to blend in and cherishes his space. Unfortunately, for him, he is tall, handsome, and very striking. Not good for blending into the landscape. He is a very quiet horse, even at mealtimes. I owned him for a month before he acknowledged me while feeding. In contrast to Tango's lusty, incessant calling--My God Woman, where have you been? I'm starving to death out here--Eli's brief "serenade" is a barely discernible rumble. Only occasionally does Eli pull the testosterone card, content to let Tango steal the show and pretend to be in charge. He seems to shun the Pomp and Circumstance common in stallions.

I looked up the word manifesto and good old Webster says: A public declaration of intention. A blog is pretty public so here is a loner horseman's manifesto. I intend to enjoy my horse moments alone and not feel guilty about them (at least I'll try). I will continue to delight in my extrovert gelding and cherish the stallion after my own heart. I embrace my inner loner cowgirl. A cowgirl/boy, after all, epitomizes rugged individualism and security in solitude. The Marlboro Man wasn't a joiner (though a stop smoking group would have been a good idea).

Community is good, community is healthy but I declare goodness in solitary moments.


Julie Garmon said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! This is me. I am you. I understand you. I'm not so weird after all. :-)

Love the word "plinking."

Catherine said...

Embrace your lonerness Jewels! I don't think you're're a great roomate:-).