The Modern World and Intuition Preferences Are Not Friends
It is the end of October in an election year. Like many people, I have spent far more time than I usually do reading political analyses and thinking about candidates, the issues our country is facing, its future direction, etc. No, this is not going to be another political post. It will, however, be an observation of the me who sits before the computer, reading some article or another, when the pressures of the day demand that she be doing something more actively productive (like blogging, perhaps).
One of the oldest personality assessments in the country is called the Myers-Briggs (MBTI). One of the spectra on it is sensing-intuition. This places people on a scale of highly preferring sensing (over-simply: detail-oriented) to highly preferring intuition (seeing the big picture first). I prefer intuition (I), if not highly. An inside joke among MBTI-ers is that someone who prefers “I” will be mid-sentence and suddenly say, “oh, look at that bird,” and their attention is suddenly transported away from the conversation. I can’t count the number of times that happens in a day — but my husband could probably tell you how many times, per conversation, that happens.
What’s my point? Oh yes, the point. Well, this is an age of information overload. Email, internet, magazines, good old TV and radio, billboards, yard signs, bumper stickers. In words and pictures, something is always demanding our attention, screaming at us its importance or desirability. And sure, some things are easy for us to ignore, especially if we don’t have an interest in them.
But what about things that pique our curiosity? Interesting things that aren’t evil or a waste of time per se, but don’t exactly help us accomplish our goals (professionally, spiritually, personally, etc)? (Those who are still students, of course, have the luxury of making the life of the mind a main priority in life.) These topics have some tangential relevance to our lives or our interests, and it is so easy to become distracted by them. For a consumer of words and writing, like yours truly, these things take on an allure that can make us push aside the more mundane yet necessary tasks before us. Result: we fall behind. (And as someone who prefers “J,” on the MBTI, I hate to fall behind. Very much a planner and check-lister, I am.)
So I can bemoan the information overload of modern day life–and then I can discipline myself to stay focused, efficient. In other words, I ought to buck up and carry on.
But in a reflective moment, I have to ask: do I really want to live a life where I can leap, carefree, down the rabbit hole of words and ideas, with no regard for how long I’ll be there or how far it takes me? Do I want a life where every day starts with a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, and a couple hours to read spiritual reflections, the news, other things which are important but not urgent? A life that allows me to think about and discuss ideas for hours? For a month, maybe two, this would be heaven, in theory. But then the full picture emerges. What would disappear from my days for this to happen? I am a mother of young children and the wife of an amazing man. More time with books and ideas means less time hugging my children, laughing at the frankly hilarious things they say or do, less time trying to make my husband laugh, talking to him and discovering, these many years later, the person he is. It would mean less time caring for all of them, and doing things that matter to me, like my work, service at my church, maintaining friendships.
No, in the end, I choose my life. This is a chapter of life that holds fleeting treasures. My children will not always want so much time with me, and my health will not always be good. I am blessed to have this life, this time, and if the sacrifice I must pay is that a few [tens of dozen of] interesting books and articles have to go unread, then I will pay it, for the reward is priceless.