Yesterday I read Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, which tells the story of Morayo Da Silva, a retired Nigerian academic living in San Francisco. Morayo tries out writing in the styles of books she reads, making notes after the final pages. I decided to try the same technique with the stream of consciousness narrative style of Like a Mule. So, here’s a short story:
In early 2016 I began a journal entry with these words from Cheryl Strayed:
‘I’ll never know, and neither will you, of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.’
When we decide on something, we inevitably decide against something else. The choices we make open up certain pathways and lead us away from others. I like the quote above because it reminds me to acknowledge other possibilities, but focus on the opportunities and people that currently fill my life.
I’m not shy, but I am an introvert. I recently read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (2013) in an attempt to understand my temperament – and those of extroverts – better. I’m interested in the psychology behind introversion and how I can communicate, work and empathise with others more effectively.
The book brings together Cain’s experience as an introvert with her research on the topic. Drawing on psychology, biology and sociology, it disputes extroversion’s status as the cultural ideal and demonstrates how introversion can be just as beneficial in our work and personal lives.