Saturday, September 27, 2008

Jane Austen and Me

Photo taken somewhere in England.

I think the biggest reason I love Jane Austen's novels is that her characters' worlds are usually small.  They live out their lives in small villages with a small circle of intimate friends. They have dinner parties, walk to the village together, and do their shopping with baskets hanging from the crooks of their arms.

 I would love to move to a small village somewhere in the British Isles and immerse myself in its daily life.  There's comfort in knowing a small group of people very well.

The place where I spent my first eighteen years was like that; Turtletown, Tennessee.  Everybody knew each other and who did what, when, and to whom.  Sometimes it was annoying as a teen.  I couldn't get away with much!  But as an adult, I like it.  It's comforting when I go back to hear Mama and Daddy talking about all the doing of the community folk.  They've both grown up and lived all their adult lives in the same place; unusual in this day and time.

 In some ways the small town view is stifling and narrow.  My parents have managed to avoid this outlook though.  Daddy is very well-read, and Mama teaches quilting at a nearby college. They've done some traveling too.  In some ways I like their life better than mine. 

So, the hard question is...how can I make my life, where I am, better?  One way for sure is to see fewer people.  This past week I had intimate contact with around one hundred people.  That doesn't count all the people I normally see in the course of a day while shopping or driving. Two days this week I've had to miss events I wanted to go to, because I felt like I needed to have some alone time to decompress from all the "people time".  

I'll tell you, having a sensitive nature is a curse sometimes.  I frequently get "that look" from even my own family members when I say that I can't go here or there because I need to be alone.  I guess if you're not that way it's really hard to understand.

So, pray for me as I make changes in my life that will keep me more centered and less stretched to breaking.  

9 comments:

laurel said...

As you well know, I am one of the people who sometimes gives you "that look". I just completely disagree with your way of thinking on this issue. I don't deny that our needs are different, and I want to be respectful of that, but I just disagree about the extent that you can or should use having a sensitive nature as an excuse. You are saying that in order to improve your life you need to get away from people? I very strongly disagree with this statement. There isn't enough room for me to write all the reason why here, so maybe I will just email you. I need to think on it some more. Food for thought though, for sure. You know I love you, in spite of our differences though.

laurel said...

"I'm not naturally given to thinking of others first. I'm too involved in my own life to stop. But by being blessed so richly during this time, I've been gently exhorted, by my own conscience, to go and do likewise. So I'll pray to love people more and myself less." I copied this from your Fellowship of the Saints post, a few back. Do you think that perhaps replacing the thoughts of needing to get away from people (or that it is the problem), with these thoughts above, might be part of the solution (putting off the old self, putting on the new)?

debbie bailey said...

Did you not see that I said that I wanted to go to these events? I was really looking forward to going to the Creation Seminar. I hated missing it.

But I have to pick and choose what I have the energy for. I knew we were coming over to your house tonight for supper, and we have CFM tomorrow. I couldn't do ALL those things. I have limits. Surely you can understand that?

debbie bailey said...

I only need to be alone when I've been with people too much. It's not that I NEVER want to be social; it's just when I need to recharge my own batteries for further social intercourse.

Laura A said...

Well, obviously I don't know you like Laurel does, but it sure does crack me up, because you sound sort of like my mom and me sometimes--only in reverse!

Debbie, I take your comments to mean that not that you always think about yourself, but after years of trying to be socially dutiful, you've accepted that you're an introvert. Introverts can be quite giving, but usually to fewer people at a time.

But really, I do feel like I've walked into the Bailey and nee Bailey living room, and perhaps I should bow out! ;-)

debbie bailey said...

Oh come on Laura. Stay around and referee!

Katy said...

I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. Those of us with this type of sensibility, constitution...whatever you want to call it, are much better for others to be around when we are able to have some time to ourselves. It's the way we're made, and it is not a matter of selfishness. I think it is hard for those who are not like us to understand. Brent doesn't get it, but he has come to accept it, and he makes time for me when he can tell that I need it.

Sian Draycott said...

I think that I'm a combination of both. I ALWAYS make the mistake of filling my calendar full of events and play dates and meetings and coffees etc, and often forget to timetable some me time. I think for us timetablers it's sometimes good to plan your me time, and then you'll need to cancel stuff less - although it still does happen.

A famous British pastor was asked to give a talk at a church on a particular date and he said, "oh I'm free that day". "Great" said the secretary of the other church, "We'll book you in". "No", said the pastor,"you misunderstood, I'm free so I can't take the meeting!!"

Sian.

Laura A said...

I mean it--your conversations hit a little close to home sometimes.

I'm not really sure how the introvert/extrovert thing works, but it stands to reason that there are both selfish and loving motives possible for either. Speaking from experience, I think that introverts seem to be touched by one on one attention, both given and received. And of course I'm a little biased towards the introverts, but I can look at things fairly enough to see that extroverts contribute an awful lot to the world, especially in that they can often barge right in where others fear to tread.

I find it a wonderful thought, meanwhile, that God can listen to 6.5 billion people's prayers, when I have a hard time keeping five prayer requests straight without becoming too general. And Jesus, though human, could communicate intimacy and love both to friends and to strangers.