Friday, October 21, 2011

The attention span I never had

I was bored a lot as a kid. And I do mean a lot. It seemed like adults always just wanted me to be quiet and not bother them. It chafed, but I wasn't in much of a position to argue. As the fictional Valentine put it in Ender's Game, "They have a word for people our age. They call us children and they treat us like mice" (p. 127).

My mind works really fast. It always has. I'm sure this contributed to the interminable nature of each car ride, church meeting, class, or social gathering. I'm reminded of something Data tells Captain Picard: "0.68 seconds sir. For an android, that is nearly an eternity." (Star Trek: First Contact - Maybe all the other kids were just as bored as I was. I'm not sure. But having a quick mind definitely didn't help.

It may be surprising to some of my readers that school bored me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The forest for the trees

I’ve lived in Utah for several years now and I don’t know how many times I’ve heard about Logan Canyon in the fall, but I hadn’t seen Logan Canyon in the fall since I was young – probably about 12. And my brother lives in Logan, which means that I really had no excuse to miss out. Since I’m on fall break, I drove up to Logan and my brother and I drove up the canyon. We went for a little hike and drove around and talked.
I was surprised by the colors; they weren’t as vibrant as I remembered. I also was surprised by how sparse the coloring was; every brightly colored tree had a bunch of dying autumn grass around it. At first, I was a little disappointed – and then I had a thought: all of the colors together look like autumn. Subdued browns are as much a part of autumn as the brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. They may not be as exciting or as aesthetically pleasing, but they are part of autumn – and there is beauty in that alone. I’m beginning to see what my roommate Jason has been so excited about since the air started getting brisk.
It’s hardly as if I don’t enjoy the beauty of autumn. And it’s hardly as if I don’t enjoy the cool, clean feeling of autumn’s morning air. But I know that these things precede the long, cold, dark winter, so the change in the weather has filled me with dread instead of with wonder. Now that I’ve seen autumn’s beauty more clearly, I wonder how much I’ve been missing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gently destroying walls

I spend a lot of my time visiting people. Sometimes I talk; sometimes I listen. As I'm unabashed about sharing my opinions and feelings, I think some people will be surprised to know that I enjoy listening. Of course, there are things that don't interest me: mindless chatter, pleasantries (especially in large amounts), and so on. But if you want to talk about something significant, you'll usually find that I'm a captive audience.

As I've realized how much I like to listen to people, I've learned to change my behavior in ways that encourage people to talk about the things that matter to them - and because those things matter to them, they matter to me. I've noticed that many people genuinely care about others but have trouble being satisfied with their conversations. I hope that my experiences will be useful to them. I also hope that my friends, especially those whose temperaments differ from my own, will add their thoughts in comments.