Hidden Depths

In the west we worship the extrovert, the celebrities we adore and business people we praise are often confident, bold and outspoken. We seem to love the charismatic, big talker and often interpret these characteristics as an indication of authenticity. I’m not knocking the extroverts out there, it’s a perfectly valid way of being and in a healthy dynamic allows someone to lead and open up conversation, but I think when one way of interacting is glorified whilst the other is seen as an unfortunate character trait, then a disharmony arises. This prioritisation of the extrovert isn’t the norm cross-culturally. In Japan and China traditionally the quiet, calm, often withdrawn person was seen to be wise. This can be seen in the famous Lao Tzu quote ‘He who knows does not speak, he who speaks does not know’. Equally Socrates in ancient Greece, often considered to be one of the wisest men in the world was confident of only one thing ‘I know that I know nothing’. These days politicians vie to seem as if they know the answer to any proposed question, uncertainity being seen as a sure indicator that they aren’t up to the job. But should we trust the overly confident? In a world of uncertainities is it not more authentic to say ‘I don’t know’ and to quietly learn and ponder until a logical path becomes clear? We teach the art of public speaking and debating but do we teach our children how to actively listen and think critically? The only area where the introvert seems to prosper is the arts and even there it often seems to be a manufactured and marketed image of quietude. A shyness played upon to fit type. But in reality a quiet manner isn’t an indication of shyness necessarily, it may instead be a choice to only engage when a person feels their point is worthwhile or thoughtful, as opposed to filling empty space with our internal narratives. Could it not instead be seen as a comfort in stillness? This boulder opal raised these thoughts in me because of it’s subtle beauty. Not bold or flashy, but just beneath the surface sit beautiful, vibrant purples and blues, waiting for the more attentive observer.

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