Entries for month: May 2016

The Perennial Pleasures of ISTJs

Every year, my ISTJ sister spends a week at her condo in Florida and for the last few years, I’ve been joining her. We do the same things she’s been doing every year: kayak on the Manatee River, swim in the condo’s pool, go out on a sunset sail, sit on the beach, walk along the sound, and eat crab legs at three different restaurants.

If you’re an ENFP, you may think that sounds like hell, repeating the same activities year after year. You would prefer to go to a place you’ve never been to, and explore all of its possibilities.

But wait a minute, let me make a case for the ISTJ way of vacationing, because I suspect that anyone, of any type, might enjoy it.  

First of all, because my sister has been doing these things for so many years, she knows how to do them right. For example, when we go kayaking, we go on Monday because that’s when we’re most likely to be alone on the river. The night before, she takes two bottles of “Simply Lemonade,” empties a little off the top, replaces it with vodka and puts the bottles in the freezer. The next morning, she packs a bag for each of us with a bottle of spiked lemonade, a bottle of frozen water, and a hefty serving of dry roasted peanuts. We each bring a small cushion to put behind us, which makes the seat very comfortable, and for three hours, we drift quietly down the river, paddling only to steer the kayak, admiring the trees and flowers, eating peanuts and getting a pleasant vodka buzz. It’s heaven, and I look forward to it all year.

Of course there are surprises; there are always surprises. One year the kayak rental owners had a peacock on the premises who was showing off his plumage, another year, an owl was perched in a tree right above us and hooted down at us. One year we saw an alligator sunning himself, and one year we actually saw a manatee. 

The point is, my sister has done this so many times she has worked out the kinks, and she knows how to make the experience simply perfect.

I once read a quote by a world famous chef. His advice to young cooks is to make a dish so many times that you have experienced almost everything that can go wrong with it, so you know how to avoid the possible errors. When it comes to vacations, my sister is like that famous chef. She has made all of the errors, and she knows how to avoid them.

ISTJs get a lot of flack for being resistant to change, but there are good reasons for their resistance. It’s because the routines and traditions that they have developed were hard won. They made all of the mistakes and learned all of the lessons, so now their finished product works every time. We need to remember that when we go in with our ideas for big changes. First, we need to ask why things are the way they are, and to acknowledge all of the painful lessons that have been learned.

I know that when I first arrive at the condo, the chicken salad and gazpacho that my sister has prepared will taste absolutely delicious and just the way I expect it. I know that while I’m with her I’ll never be hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, uncomfortable, bored or afraid, because my sister has experienced it all before me and now knows how to avoid it. I don’t have to repeat her mistakes, and that’s a great gift she gives to me.

This year, we did some new things, mostly because so many people had recommended them to my sister that their experience almost made up for her lack of experience. The new things were fun, but they weren’t perfect, like the old things. We came away with a little bit of dissatisfaction and things we would change if we came back next year.

For years, the people at my sister’s condo community complained about the temperature of their swimming pool. It always seemed too warm or too cold. But now the maintenance men seemed to have found the perfect temperature, where you don’t get any shock when you jump in, but it still feels refreshing after the hot sun. It took at least 20 years and a lot of aggravation to find that perfect temperature. I never jump in now without remembering what went into that lovely water. Thank god for the things that are perfect every time, and for the people (mostly ISTJs) who finally got them to that place.

 

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