It was a major personal breakthrough.
I’m the oldest of three girls born of the same parents and raised in the same Middle-of-America town. An adventurer by nature, I enjoy new ideas, different flavors, and meeting novel people. If there is an opportunity to learn, move forward with my life (and shed an old skin), or try out a different restaurant, I’m game.
For me, routine is fine so long as it isn’t a rut, and my idea of being steadfast is modeled after an ice skater; Moving, leaping, running and twirling but in complete control of her center of gravity. I like stability in motion.
My youngest sister on the other hand, is a potted plant.
Nine years separate our ages and at times throughout our lives together we have been at odds in our perspectives. Each of us still gets confused about how the other functions in – and views – the same world.
While growing up I preferred huge, unfettered vistas full of opportunity and possibilities. My sister devoured all the rule books and would assert percentages of what would happen, what was allowed by law, and she would believe unquestioningly whatever was written by someone with letters behind their name – exactly the sort I was inclined to challenge.
Having a pile of work thrown on my desk for me to figure out was an exciting project, but it was painfully fearful for my sister to try something without clear direction. “C” wanted to know exactly what was expected of her and when it should be completed. “What was the protocol?” she’d wonder. “Where were the prescriptions for accepted action?” “Who should she ask if she had a question?”
I love an unscheduled calendar with large blocks of free time to spend as I choose. “C” enjoys having anniversaries, vacations and holidays all planned – preferably for next year or even five years out if she can.
We tiptoed around each other a bit on my latest visit back to the States, and there were times where we were taken aback in our own personal disorder caused by the other’s responses to situations. That was when I had my simple yet penetrating insight about the differences in our personalities.
She’s a potted plant and I’m a dancer.
Seeking security and an ordered life, my sister thrives in an environment where she knows the boundaries, someplace where she tends to a small area that she can call her own. Not liking change, she doesn’t aspire to outgrow anything; her clothes, her relationships, her home, her job. “C” prefers knowing how much her paycheck will be, when dinner is to be ready, how much she is expected to spend for any occasion and – if she ever encountered a serious illness – what the chances the doctor would give her for survival.
Trustworthy, predictable, preferring safety over the untried, she is rock-steady and a foundation upon which her loved ones depend. Her husband continuously claims that she is the perfect wife. Hard to argue with that.
I am reliable too, but am hardwired differently. My need for motion combines with the mundane in quirky expressions. Scheduled personal phone dates are consistently kept even though they span broad time zones across the globe. Monthly bills are paid by automatic digital deductions that I set up while I am visiting Guatemala, Myanmar or The Philippine Islands. Connections with family happen with my handwritten letters, email, Skype and month-long visits when I’m in town.
When I walk through vast canyons, stunning gardens, or witness mighty ocean waves pound the shore, it is my loved ones I’m thinking about. After all, there is no distance from the heart’s point of view.
“C’s” rule book is filled with precise delineations, a place where she can point to assure herself that she has not blundered. Whether it’s a social matter she’s concerned about or an issue of finance, she knows what governs behavior, and what the accepted course is for medicine, marriage or the way to communicate with your Maker. God is in the details, to be sure. Her perfection is in the known, the prescribed, and the customary. She is blissfully happy with her life and I am afloat in happiness for her.
However, I would choke to death in her life; it’s just not for me. No matter how much I want us to comprehend each other’s point of view, the only things that connect us are our love, the blood that runs through our veins and our history together.
Well, … those are pretty strong bonds.
I remember the exact moment when she became a person I never knew. And since I enjoy dancing so much, I know that she will provide me with decades of opportunities not to step on her toes.