Introverts encouraged

A couple of introversion life-style pieces for a popular audience: “Living as an Introvert in an Extrovert World” in The Week addresses the social angle, while “Introverts, Hermits, And The Shy: Here’s Your Map To Success” in Forbes interviews a writer focused on jobs and careers.

Introverts will recognize the socializing issues immediately. The jogs and careers issues are more of a challenge. Since the 2012 appearance of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a number of essays and articles have tried to “rehabilitate” introverts, to reassure them that they, too, can embrace the world of competition and claw their way to upward nobility. Usually this tact is addressed when discussing mental health like stress and burn-out and coping methods that poorly imitate meditation, and can be offensive. But more sensitive articles emphasize the existence of jobs that introverts actually like, occupations not quite as solitary as historically solitary jobs of lighthouse keepers or charcoal burners, of course. And that is the key. Introverts in occupations that highlight their mental or tactile skills versus their personality tip the perception of others favorably. But in the world of higher competition usually favored by magaines like Forbes, no safe advice is guaranteed.

URL: (The Week); (Forbes)

Prisoner & recluse

The New Yorker features a brief essay titled “My Prison Cell: the Refuge of a Recluse” by an imprisoned man who is personally also a recluse. He describes the paradox of imprisonment and reclusion in a poignantly direct manner.

I’m a recluse. By definition, that implies I don’t like being around people. But the oddity of this situation is that I don’t enjoy the feeling of being alone. It’s just that I feel as if I should be alone.


Solitude samples

A useful summary article on solitude today appears on the freelancer website Quartz titled “How the Mind Changes, Time Expands When There’s No One Else Around.” Besides mention of familiar names like Thoreau and Nietzsche, the article refers to a recent Chinese news item on the solitary resident of a village, and to the part-time hermit Roc Sandford, who lives a portion of the year on a remote Scottish island. Sandford reports of his days of solitude:

“Your senses get heightened, whether you’re reading, writing, looking at the landscape, thinking. It’s a bit of an amplifier. If you’re sad you get much sadder and if you’re happy you get much happier,” adds Sandford. “I suspect you get closer to own mind and personality because you’re not compromising and negotiating with other people.”


Sara Maitland: desert silence

In Christian Century (March 2012 issue) author Sara Maitland (A Book of Silence, 2010; How to Be Alone, 2014) has written of her annual journey to the Sinai desert seeking meditative silence. From the article:

I feel a strong spiritual affinity for deserts. For the last six years I have lived as a semihermit on a moor in southern Scotland, which is isolated, wild and, to me, extraordinarily lovely. However, it is not a desert, so every fall I go to Sinai for a week. In order to be able to afford this—silence not being very profitable in the 21st century—I am employed by a travel company to introduce other people to desert silence. The company, which hires members of the Bedouin tribe as hosts, has a serious ecological commitment and a deep, predominantly Christian spiritual agenda. The expedition I work on, however, is not a standard retreat but a nondenominational exploration of silence itself. One consequent privilege is to have travelers from a wide range of traditions—including Muslims, Buddhists, Jews and people without any explicit religious affiliation, as well as Christians from across the spectrum.