Until I retired I rarely got enough sleep. My second grade teacher let me stay in and take naps during recess. The noise of a college dorm kept me awake with anxiety: Music theory class at 8:00 in the morning required rest. I occasionally cried myself to sleep. The exhaustion and anxiety of working years sometimes called for a little pill in the middle of the week so that I would have at least one good night’s sleep during the week.
Now retired, I live in Arizona for five months of the year. I go to bed late. 12:00? 1:00? I am a night owl. After so many years of being tired, I recognize that the world does not operate on my circadian rhythm.
I naturally wake up between 7:30 and 9:00. My husband puts coffee on my bedside table at 8:30. Sometimes it is cold before I realize it is there. An hour of thinking about and writing dreams, checking email, reading the news…I am ready to leave my warm cozy. I might put in a load of laundry, clean the bathroom, run Roomba in the bedroom--he vacuums under the bed!
Maybe by eleven I am ready to eat something. Is it breakfast or lunch? I do my daily 7 Little Words and the Washington Post Crossword Puzzle.
By now I am ready for the shower. The text comes: Am I ready to play cards down by the pool? I have to dry my hair and get dressed; I need fifteen minutes. My card playing friends have been on the go for hours. Their houses are clean; their laundry is finished (my laundry still needs to go in the dryer); their dinners are in the crockpots…
We play cards until happy hour or dinner time. We have fun and laugh a lot. But, I have had no reading time and have done no writing. I don’t function on their schedules.
I realize something else: I am a be-er. Many of my friends are do-ers. Their energy levels put mine to shame.
They love to go and do. I want to stay and be still.
And I also recognize: Two of my favorite people are ENFP’s on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. I am an INFP. I envy my extroverted friends’ energy, their eagerness, their accomplishments. I love conversations of depth with them, but I cannot keep up with their activity levels. They seem to have it all and do to all—and to have it all together.
Sometimes guilt slaps me up side of the head. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I live like others? Why can’t I do what others do?
Why can’t I be on the go like others? Why can’t I accomplish like others accomplish?
But then I read, “What does it mean to live at the speed of your own soul?
(Parker Palmer and Carrie Newcomer)
The world may expect me to live at its speed, but I realize that my soul has its own pace.
I work at understanding what that means for me and honoring the regulating voice within.