Why does that come up now? My gosh, this is a question I thought we dealt with back in college when existentialism was the craze. Actually I deal with this question every day, but yesterday I read Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Who Am I" poem and newsletter headliner by Pastor Becky. I guess if Bonhoeffer can tackle this question, so can I.
Becky's writing struck home as she talked about being an introvert and that many ministers actually are. I heard at a Committee for Preparation to the Ministry meeting some months ago that it isn't that introverts don't like people, they're just more likely to become energized when they are alone than when they are with lots of people. Okay, so the shoe fits. I sometimes revert back to a quote from Snoopy of the cartoon strip "Peanuts" back in the early '60's in which he said something to the effect, "I love mankind, it's just people that I don't like." For me that relates to a quote of Ganghi who said something like this: "Christianity won't be so bad if it weren't for the Christians."
Another thing that comes to mind at this time is that I am alone at home for a week and although there are opportunities to get out and do lots of things this Fourth of July holiday weekend, I'm enjoying opting out. I could miss the crowds and heat and do quite well, but I feel called to help with the Ice Cream Booth, which I announced months ago that I would not do when I thought I too was going to North Dakota (I stayed home to feed the animals and water the plants especially because the temperatures are near 100˚), and there are people I would like to see, such as Anya and her parents. So this afternoon after I bottle feed the baby bison and cow calves, I will pack my computer and go to Monmouth. Tomorrow, the Fourth of July, that's to be seen yet.
So what do I do when I'm home alone? Today's answer is different than it would have been years ago. In both cases, I would enjoy it. I try to do things that are more easily done alone than when another person is around. I don't turn on the TV, I eat at unscheduled times, I eat more simply, I try to clean up as the day goes along to avoid a big clean-up sometime in the future and I do it in preparation for Gail's return. I do some of the routine tasks that Gail would do such as water plants. I don't do some of the things I would otherwise do, like cook and water dishes. I made a big hot dish the first day and eat off that every meal and I reuse the same plate for each meal; I do wash it between meals.
I try to do things that need a large span of time: digging through old files, organizing family tree and history files, writing some of the history, scanning pictures, transcribing old writings, etc. Outside I try to clean the garage and shop, finish half-done projects, cut and remove weeds, prune trees. It's been too hot to do that routinely so I try to squeeze that into the cooler mornings and evenings. There's some firewood to cut and a barn wall to paint as well. I'd like to read more, write more, study art, listen to music and play the piano, and maybe train myself to not have to be doing something all the time.
You see there's no people stuff on the list, not even traveling, I reserve that and desire that when Gail's here. Fortunately this week falls at a time when there are no big people events on the horizon and I can postpone communicating with them and motivating them to help others. That will come next week. Alas, as an introvert and being energized with this "alone time" I will jump with both feet into planning the Block Party and the Hospitality Week, as well as following up on Western Compass activities and redesigning my class for the university.
But for now I am alone, not counting birds, insects, trees, flowers, the breeze, Sheba (our dog), and I am who I am. But who are you?