Listening and learning

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA

Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, ADS 11/2014

I’m in a contemplative mood this morning. I’ve eaten a healthy breakfast, a new routine I established for me and David.  I have a warm cup of tea beside me, soft music playing, and several good books beckoning from my iPad while a couple of hard covers call “pick me up and read me.”

While I was in California, thanks to my son Richard, I discovered Pandora radio. For a mere $5 per month I can listen to the music I like and not be burdened with CDs or commercials.

I like solo instruments, mostly stringed instruments and duos, trios, at most a quartet.  Beyond that the instrumentation drives me nuts.  My parrots are very quiet while my music plays.  Music to calm the savage breast they once said.

David likes the full orchestration with Russian composers, so while I listen to a single piano player, he blasts his ears in the bathroom as he shaves.  Poor David you might think. But he has a mega sound system in his car, and I know he will blast himself when he goes out later. Plus, if I go anywhere he uses the sound system in the living room to the maximum. I know this because the dogs told me he eats candy and plays loud music when I am away.

But you never go anywhere, says David.  I’m an introvert and we introverts cannot stand overstimulation so we stay in our cozy nests most of the time.  We like the solitary life which is why some of us do hours of research on one thing or another, live with Mountain Gorillas, or write novels.

A minority of the population, Introverts are the most misunderstood people in the world. They don’t like parties of any kind or any gathering with more than 4-6 people.  They especially don’t like crowds where they are recognized by several people.  They like to slip in and out of places like church or the grocery store without being recognized. They love gardens, nature walks, and libraries where talking is verboten.

Years ago, my son Richard and I were walking through the John Muir Woods and I whispered to him.  Why are you whispering he asked.  Because its a cathedral I said.

The NYTimes reported recently that researchers have found that Introverts aren’t shy, but they avoid situations that overstimulate them.  It’s a chemical thing, apparently. We do well in the woods.


When I had a stroke and was hospitalized, my office collected money and asked people to sign a ‘get well’ card.  The gal who organized it told me later she was surprised by the number of people who knew me and came forward to sign the card.  I still have the card, a memento of that day when the folks in my office realized I had many friends although I never went bowling with them or attended a wedding, baby or most farewell parties.

Introverts are best at one-on-one relationships.  Public speaking distresses them.   I did a lot of the latter at one point, and found a way to do less of it by changing jobs.

Introverts don’t want to be managers or supervisors. I found a way to do less of that by changing jobs.

This week, David Brooks wrote a piece on a recent study which showed that as we age we grow happier.  A U-shaped curve he said, happiest in our twenties and in later life.  People 80-85 are the happiest the study reported.  A good reason to extend life beyond age 75, especially if you are a retired Introvert.

Muir Woods, National Monument

Muir Woods, National Monument ~ Wikipedia

31 thoughts on “Listening and learning

  1. Not going to bore you with a comment on every post I missed while traveling, but I did catch up on all of them and learned from each, as usual. This post, above all the others, made me glad I took the time to catch up. I’m guessing many bloggers are introverts — we don’t dislike people (in fact we often enjoy them) but we don’t have to be with company (especially in crowds) every minute of the day. And nor do we have to be talking all the time. So many people don’t seem to know they are alive unless their mouth is moving. (Just my personal rant.)


  2. I am an extrovert but when I get tired, usually late in the afternoon, I want to go home and be very, very quiet. I rarely go out in the evenings for this reason.

    I have finally decided, at this late stage, that I am not going to any more wedding receptions that turn into big dance shows. I will attend the wedding, just not the reception. RSVPd for just such an event. After the wedding at 5, we will go home while the rest of the guests travel on to a large venue for dinner and dancing into the late night.


  3. I often wondered how I manage to smile when faced with a crowd – questioned answered now with your words ‘introverts Introverts can “act” like extroverts if pushed to do so’. Mind you it’s quite stressful to have to do so.
    After years of answering a phone in a private hospital and doing it with a smile in my voice I now physically grimace when I hear the house phone ring and will ignore it. Answer machines are great and if I dont return the call I assume the caller will ring back if it’s important enough 🙂
    I hardly look at my mobile – have one after being pressured by family ‘you never know Mum – emergencies happen’.


  4. Nice comment and photo on Muir Woods. Just finished a little biography of John Muir. I hadn’t known about his years growing up in Wisconsin before he made the journey west to become a famous advocate of wilderness preservation. He led quite a life and left quite a legacy.


    • John Muir is special to me for many reasons. As you know my dad’s family hails from WI. Everyone in our family who went to college except Dad graduated from UWI. Muir taught there, I think. Dad attended UWI two years then transferred to UMI.

      My grandfather revered Muir. A few years back, my Aunt gave me a copy of Muir’s book, A Thosand Mile Walk to the Gulf, describing Muir’s long hike through the South after the Civil War.

      My Dad became a forestry/soil conservation major because of Muir.

      The John Muir Woods are breathtaking. My son Richard is taking his sons to visit all the national parks in the West…the family interest continues. Would love to read your book.


  5. Don’t know where I fall I’ve been both ,intro and extroverted, at different times of my life and the circumstances at the time.Enjoy being alone but can talk to anyone anywhere anytime if need be . Preference tests took in Jr, High and in college said I should be a forest ranger.


  6. Doesn’t everybody get annoyed and irritated when dealing with a bureaucracy? I’ve read that people are happiest when they’re in their 60s. But let’s not quibble. Let’s just enjoy ourselves!


    • The results in my post from two different surveys, 1/ that introverts do not like to speak onthe phone, and 2/ people ages 80-85 report being happier now than at other times in their lives means…

      1/ when an introvert is tied up on the phone with “the bureaucracy” it is especially excruciating.

      2/ People in their 80s today experienced childhood during The Depression and WWII. The relative stability of today makes life look pretty good. Besides which, the study says a U shaped curve exists. People in their 40s and 50s have the most difficulty being happy.

      PS am in my seventies and feeling comparatively happy. You kid you!


  7. I like being married to David, but don’t know if I would want to be married to someone else if he were to die. I traveled solo around the world and lived by myself when I was single. But, the loneliness actually made me sick. I don’t like feeling lonely. Alone, yes, but not lonely.


  8. I am also an introvert. My husband did a lot of traveling for years, and I never minded being alone. I look forward to bad weather and the excuse to stay inside and cocoon. And about that life is good in the 80s business – I guess it is good to have something to look forward to as we age!


    • I’d like to believe my outlook can only improve, as it has every year I’ve grown older. Enjoying being on my own helps. I also have a greater understanding of the way the world works, and all the angst of being young and in love and stupid are behind me, etc. Live one day at a time I say.


  9. Wow. I love all those things. My adult kids used to ask me if I was okay being alone or on my own and I always said “Are you kidding?” There’s no better way to be. Here’s to our happy 80’s. xxoo


    • Indeed. I forgot to add talking on the phone. I don’t like it and neither do other introverts according to the study. For us, dealing with a bureaucracy as I had to do this past week with the credit card problem is maddening.


  10. Goodness, you have just described me to a ‘T’. I also often like to sit in the dark, with nothing but the glow of my IPad. My reason when Gregg calls me mole girl after he switches every light on in the house when he comes into the house? “Me eyes are more light sensitive than yours!”


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