A T-shirt says
we’re here –
we’re uncomfortable –
and we want to go home –
It’s in one of my disheveled highboy drawers. Late Victorian, oak with maple inlays, six drawers, brass pulls. Handsome. Valuable? Not sure. I bought it in an antique store about fifty years ago. It holds socks in the top drawer, underclothes in the second and third drawers, this and that in the fourth drawer, that and this in the fifth drawer, and workout clothes in the bottom drawer. There. You know more about my personal life than you have any interest in.
Or than I want you to know. (Introvert; uncomfortable.)
Now, look. I’m not one to quote scripture (from any tradition). But this morning in the church where I am organist, a bit of the New Testament, from the Letter of James (perhaps one of Jesus’ Disciples, for those who read other scriptures) was scheduled to be read. James wrote it, “To whom it may concern.” There. Now you also know a bit more about the literature of the New Testament than you have any interest in.
About all I remember from the readings this morning is James saying, “You do not have, because you do not ask [from God, I guess]. You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.” I suppose he means pleasures like my t-shirt. “. . . spend what you get on your pleasures. . .” I asked wrongly at some point for a tuxedo, and I got an “introvert” t-shirt. Well, now, that’s a perfectly ridiculous way to interpret poor old James who isn’t here to defend himself.
A word about introversion. Mine, at any rate. It sucks. Or it doesn’t. Don’t know. Here’s how it works. I’m a pro. Musician, that is. I’ve been playing keyboard instruments for 72 years. Professionally for 61 years. And a college professor for 34 years. Stating facts for a reason. More than you have any interest in. Yesterday I practiced the organ for four – count them – hours. Not unusual. Practice makes perfect, and all that. And in a couple of areas of my life I am a perfectionist. I get furious (or depressed) (or confused) when I make a mistake, and that leads to more mistakes. And I am pretty much terrified that I will make a mistake, and you will notice and think less of me.
The only defense is to go home. Hide. Build up my energy so I can edge out into public again.
I know. Teaching college classes, directing choirs, and playing solo music hardly seem like hiding. Whoa! In those situations, who’s in charge? Or, at least, who can convince himself he is in charge?
So after practicing yesterday I came HOME and immediately cleaned house, wrote some notes I needed to write, and did a zillion other nuisance sorts of things. Went to bed. Slept four hours. Thinking the entire time at home that I had not practiced enough. That I’d mess up. Asking that I not. Please. Did I? I don’t think so, but what do I know? And I rushed HOME. ALONE. No one to criticize me. Bother me. Or, worst of all, tell me they admired, liked, what I did. They liked all those mistakes? ALONE! That’s my kind of introversion. Ask that I not mess up. Convince myself I did.
There are other kinds.