The Tortoise and the Introvert

The tortoise doesn’t worry about self-worth nor reflect on what he is or may seem to be to others. He’s born alone; then, what strength to go on! At a speed of 0.87 mph he leads a basic life, putting one claw after the other. The tortoise counts on vibrations to warn of danger.  However, on a safe day in a leafy place, he has plenty of time for meticulous scrutiny of limited horizon. He can live up to 100 years — provided he doesn’t cross a road at the wrong time or meet a soup maker. Tortoises can burrow tunnels of thirty feet where they find their hide. They spend 50% of their lives asleep and hibernate from October through March.  They are vulnerable creatures and highly dependent on camouflage.  All drawn into their shell the animals look like rocks. Imagine what might happen in their brains when vibrations warn of foreign intrusion. Do tortoises feel terror? I’ve read that tortoises can be affectionate. They don’t have intellect, but they have intelligence. Their best offense is their superb defense — lie low, go inert until the vibs recede into faintness, ultimately fading into silence.

Remember, when Myers-Briggs human personality type indicators were all the rage?  Being an INTJ, I was most interested in the I’s, the introverts. I’d say the bulk of tortoises are I’s. The I-type requires frequent respite from action in order to face life. By this method and getting “vibs,” I survived in politics and as a chamber executive for many years, but only by finding frequent refuge in poetry, cycling a lonely road, or slowly sipping a glass of wine in sheer idleness. Like the tortoise I need six hours of darkness, but this human also needs space and  time to read Keats’ “Ode to Melancholy.”  Too bad the tortoise can’t appreciate Keats.

One point about the INTJ type says that she gets her sense of self-worth from internal criteria rather than the approbation of others. Jim Tressel defines success as personal satisfaction.  I have trouble seeing any coach as introverted, but the I-type can be aggressive. Myers Briggs says that extroverts and introverts must acquire some traits of their opposites if they are to survive. Both human introverts and tortoises need camouflage to survive  in gregarious America. There’s a tortoise factor in all of us.

Steadfast and cautious,

David Milliken

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