Thursday, December 6, 2018

Solitary Helper

One thing I have discovered about myself is that I prefer to work alone.

This tends to surprise most people, as I am a rather social person. And a very chatty individual. But when I am working on a project, I am quiet and focused and I don’t like interruption. 

When I was in high school we were expected to be silent and attentive to the teacher during our classes. If we were given a reading or study assignment, we were to read or study soundlessly, not disturbing others, using our minds and not our mouths. 

I struggled with this. Sitting still and studying was not something I did well. In fact, remaining mute while the teacher lectured was also not something I did well. I preferred to be otherwise occupied, either chatting with one of my classmates, reading a novel or writing in a journal. Listening to the instructor was just, like, well, so boring. 

Except during art class. During art class we listening to the instructor, which was interesting, and then we were to set about our art project. And we were allowed to visit in hushed tones while we worked. 

Art was the one class that I seldom talked in. Because when I am busy working on art, I have to hold my tongue in such a fashion that talking is not possible. 

But really, when I am entranced in an art project, I don’t talk. I don’t hear. I pretty much zone out the entire world. So I prefer to be by myself. I’ve tried listening to audio books, but I don’t hear most of what they are saying, so that doesn’t work. If someone wants to tell me something, I have to stop whatever it is I’m doing and seriously focus on them in order to pay attention to them.

And when I am asked to assist someone else with a project, well, I can’t do that either. The other day the carpenter was at our house to install some built in bookcases. I needed to be there to answer questions about how I wanted the project done. I spent an hour with the man, who is a wonderful, delightful, talented carpenter. It took every bit of my will power to stay there with him, to stay focused and to not run off and find something else to do. 

Mostly I just stood there while he talked (to himself, I think, since I wasn’t really paying attention) about distances, measurements, widths, and such. Periodically I would hear what sounded like a question, so I would tune in and figure out what he needed to know and give him an answer. Then I’d move off into dreamland again while he continued to discuss with himself what he needed to do. 

This is agonizing work for me. After he left I called my hubby and said, “I just spent the most horrible hour trying to pay attention to the carpenter.” Tim just laughed - he knows exactly how hard this is for me, because with him I am not so self-disciplined. When I am “helping” Tim, I always wander off to find something else to do and he has to come find me. This exasperates him. And it makes all of our projects take twice as long to do. But it helps me keep what’s left of my sanity, so I think it’s worth it. 

I suspect Tim would question the whole sanity statement, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic.

1 comment:

  1. I can understand your point only too well. When I am working on something I zone in on only on that and shut the rest of the world out. It almost takes a shout to get my attention.