The Detoxing Man is Introspective (often, and without provocation)
Who is the you that thinks your thoughts? The one that listens and processes information. Who is the you that acts and reacts to the world around you? The you that makes meaning and forms relationships. I often imagine that me as a little man inside that is just trying to figure things out. A me that bumbles around, careening off of situations that should require a lot more nuance, but he is a little off and so can’t really understand what is happening until far afterward. It is the introspective me, the one that tells on myself, the one that actually says I’m sorry or makes amends. The me that thinks my thoughts is painfully slow, but is nonetheless, the best part of me.
I am often astonished at others ability to “think on their feet” or to be “quick-witted” with a joke. My wife has this ability, making our whole family laugh with a single turn of phrase. My middle son is coordinated to the point of finesse and can instinctually understand where a soccer ball is headed next and how to be in the right place to receive or redirect it. These are skills they have honed over many years, and I do not begrudge them their preternatural knack for in-the-moment greatness. But, I do not pretend that I have these same abilities.
Instead, I focus on “in-the-moment-after” greatness. It is far more attainable for me, and I believe, for the vast majority of us. Not everyone can come up with just the right thing to say or the right move to make, but we can all think about it, process it, and come back with better words and ideas. We can all look within and reflect upon how we performed with an eye toward making better choices or becoming a better person.
And yet, too often we get caught up in the next thing, the next action to take or errand to run. We do not let ourselves be “in-the-moment-after.” This goes for me too. Too often I try to fight my introspective self, the little man who stumbles into the “right answer” by actually thinking things through. I yell at my kids to get ready for school or react to them not cleaning up the dining room table that I specifically asked about at least three times already. I never get to “in-the-moment-after” because I am too caught “in the moments.”
So, I must make time for introspection. The morning coffee or the afternoon walk. Folding laundry or sitting and listening to a vinyl record. Each of these “moments-after” allow me to build my own understanding, to think my own thoughts. No one asks me to do this; no one provokes me into a state of introspection. Rather, I make it a habit because I know the little man inside me needs it. He needs the time to gather himself and figure out how I should have reacted or what should have been said. He needs me to continually come back to this place inside my head to process, making meaning, and build a better me. So that maybe, just maybe, my in-the-moment self will learn something and be able to intuit where the ball is headed next.