I think to myself, We are a whirlwind shrouded in serenity.
Sitting on the wooden bench on the beach boardwalk, I find it hard to focus on the book I brought along. I realize it’s because my superpowers have kicked in. I think of Superman, and his most underrated abilities of heightened sense. He must go through this from time to time. I know us introverts do.
I know the best thing to do is give in and let it play out, so I put my book face down at my side and instead spend the next hour observing everything.
Everything? Is that possible?
Maybe I am describing it wrong. Saying everything implies ‘all at once’, and that isn’t quite right. Instead, I find myself noticing many things, one at a time, and bounce back and forth between them. Along the way, I’ll discover a new stimulus and add it to the mental checklist.
How does that work? Well, take now for instance: there is the ocean. I can’t help but hear the waves once my eyes settle on that wrinkling green surface that continues out to and beyond the horizon. For a moment, I linger of the roaring waves.
Then the wind blows and pounds into my right ear and I forget about the waves. Leaves and dry branches crackle, and I am reminded of the shrubbery planted behind me.
As I wonder if there are animals in the shrub I failed to notice before, a different roar interrupts my thought. This one feels more like a scream; it is deeper and more aggressive, and its echo rattles my chest. A jet. It’s the third one in the past fifteen minutes, and I remember there is an air base nearby. When the scream dies off, I stare at my shoes and focus my ears, trying to catch the next thundering wave so I could look up in time and maybe catch a glimpse of the steel bird.
My concentration is broken by music, giggling, and pointless conversation from a group of passing pedestrians I immediately decided to dislike. The entire world around me gives way to theirs, and until they disappear, that group – their voices, their footsteps, the obnoxious tune thumping from their portable stereo, even their bright clothes – consume my state of mind. Finally, they turn to the sand and trudge closer to the sea where their existence is snuffed out by the sea.
The temperature drops slightly and the boardwalk dims from a passing cloud. I realize I haven’t looked up in a while. I spend the next few minutes staring at the clouds, which aren’t all that entertaining honestly. Instead, I find myself marveling at them for a moment, barely a microsecond, then lapsing into a day dream or fleeting thought just a brief before returning to the clouds again. I cycle through this a thousand times before I become aware of the seagulls around me…
To the people passing by on the boardwalk, I must look incredibly bored. They see a man, sitting on a bench, seemingly simple minded and tranquil. They see calm.
Yet my brain is not calm. Our brain – the mind of an introvert – is never calm. Our superpower won’t allow it. It forces us to see the world in its entirety, and the result is an internal swirl of activity that never stops.
We are a whirlwind shrouded in serenity. And beneath it all is a loneliness that comes from being in sync with a world no one else can see.
Finally, the sounds of the beach simmer and the whirlwind fades. I pick up my book to read about a printed world that’s easier to take in.