Entries for month: March 2011

March Madness

When tax time looms, I hate being an INFP. It's not that I haven't developed a system for keeping track of income and expenditures: in fact, my Excel spreadsheet is a model of artistic craftsmanship. It's just that I see no numbers entered after February 10 of last year. So I need to find figures on receipts piled on my desk or jumbled on the passenger seat of my car (where I also store poetry scribbled on Peets and Starbucks napkins).

All of my health information is on sheets from Humana, many in an unopened stack of incoming mail. I laugh aloud at Humana's slogan: Guidance when you need it most. That would be now, so where are they? I know my account is online. The password must be here somewhere. . .

Then there’s the nagging recollection that the nosey IRS will want to know what I earned and spent. In all these years I've kept them from discovering that my relationship to banking is to pull up to the ATM and hit "Balance Inquiry." If it's greater than zero, I withdraw cash; otherwise, drive on. (The banking info is online too, but that’s another password to find.) Tax time brings up the guillotine terror of finally getting caught faking any resemblance to ISTJ friends.

So it's a stressful time, with panic controlled by self-medication using pints of Talenti gelato (Is that a deductible expense, and if so, is it medical or business?).

I know enough about type that I’ve made attempts to flex my preferences and be better prepared for this March Madness, as in setting up the ultimately unused spreadsheet. I know that my INFP resistance to people telling me what to do doesn’t help, since the IRS is the most imposing authority figure in my life—in league with my tax accountant and his absurd assumption that I should know where I put my W-2 and get it to him before April 14th. The way he shrouds his disdain always reminds me of an adolescent’s comment when I had him read CAPT’s description of his type opposite: “I don’t see how anybody could be like that and live!!

So I’ll press on, thankful for having acquired just enough knowledge of type that I can get through the next week or two without adding self-criticism to the piles.



Our friends in Japan

Our friends, family, and colleagues in Japan are much on my mind these days.  I worry about and for them – as do so many other people on the planet.

Underlying this type thing, underneath this pledge to make constructive use of differences, underneath this honoring of different typological ways of being in the world – underneath all of these is a key that makes it all work. The key is in remembering what we fundamentally share - our humanity.

In learning and teaching about type, we often start from the point of valuing differences – that it’s important to approach people and relationships from the perspective of honoring different ways of viewing and being in the world. This is true of course – people are indeed different. But the reason this approach to differences can potentially work is because of an often unspoken recognition. It is the recognition that, though people may think differently and behave differently, at some basic level we are more alike than we are different. We share in a common experience.

Yes, people show caring for family in different ways – but people everywhere care for their families. People may have different ideas about what it means to “do something well," but people everywhere want to feel successful and know that they’ve done a good job.

And people everywhere have losses. And feel sad or adrift in the chaos of those losses. And people everywhere want to have a measure of security, stability, safety, family, and community.  And people everywhere want to help and support others. And people who are victims of a tragedy will over and over again rise heroically to reconnect and rebuild.

Learning about type is – in one way – as much or more a path about recognizing and remembering our common humanity. And about honoring all the different forms that our underlying humanity can take. Paradoxically then, although type is about respecting differences, this insight can and must rest in the larger recognition of something universal that we share. It is this underlying shared ground of our humanity that allows us to appreciate differences.

And so as I worry about our friends in Japan, it is in times like this that I am reminded of what we share. And how quickly things can change in our lives. Let all of us hold them in our hearts and in our minds and reach out to them in whatever ways we are able.


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