One of my all-time favorite movies is Caddyshack. Bill Murray is superb as the grumbling groundskeeper Carl, who is determined to kill the freakin’ gopher wreaking havoc all over the golfing greens — even if he has to destroy the whole course to do it.
He and the gopher are both so endearingly quirky, I never know who I’m rooting for.
Come to think of it, it’s a good allegory for what I’m up against this coming week. Every time I think my gopher is gone, it just keeps popping back up to taunt me.
I’m a hardcore introvert.
In today’s language, that means I need time alone to decompress and recharge. If I don’t get that time, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. (Enter Bill Murray with plastic explosives.)
According to Myers-Briggs, I’m an INFJ. Over three decades, I’ve repeated the test a few times and expected the results to change because of time and life experience, but it always gives me the same results. I guess it must be true. ツ
INFJs make up less than 2% of the general population, but I’m in good company: Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Carl Jung, Emily Bronte, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Oprah Winfrey … to name a few. (I keep trying to picture Gandhi filling out his multiple choice questionnaire.)
We are decisive, altruistic, passionate, creative … and teaching and writing are two of our recommended careers (yay me!).
The intuitive strength is both good and bad. Speaking personally, it’s what helped me save my son’s life a couple of times. But it also means I’m sensitive to people’s negative energy. I know when others have less than desirable motives, and I can see through manipulation and insincerity in a heartbeat.
This means that, more than the average person, my skin gets itchy around certain people and making eye contact with them makes my legs twitch.
Taking quizzes and tests to measure ourselves is getting popular, based on what I see on Facebook anyway. We like to get confirmation that our vocabulary or creativity is in the top 10th percentile, or that a Maserati is the car that matches our personality.
Somehow, if the online quiz or expert test tells us that we’re smart, then it must be true. They also help us feel more legitimate when we justify why we love or hate something.
I know I’m doing that with all my “introvert/INFJ stuff”. Somehow, shouldn’t it justify why I’m dreading the upcoming visit from one of my in laws? Doesn’t that give me permission to make a run for it?
Really … she’s not a nice person. I’m not even sure you would need to be intuitive or sensitive to see it.
I could go on and justify what I’m saying by detailing her icky behaviors and mean-spirited antics, but that won’t be helpful to anyone. Rather, I’m trying to figure out how to get around my absolute dread at the thought of politely welcoming her into my home.
Not only that, but for the duration of their stay I’ll be denied what I need most to avoid setting off the explosives: alone time will be nonexistent. Her children are beautiful but they’re everywhere; it’s like they’re on speed and they never sleep. Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like it. Anyway …
The combined challenge has my body edging closer and closer to a full-on spasm, before they even get here. How do I deal when my gopher is about to be in my face?!
Bill Murray had blueprints for tracking his gopher. And, depending on his chosen method of attack, he had even more instructions for weapon deployment.
As funny as that was to watch, I think I’ll turn to spiritual texts for some inspiration and advice.
Biblically speaking, I’m advised to love my neighbors as myself, turn the other cheek and judge not, lest I be judged.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna declares that the wise man “sees himself in all beings and all beings in himself” and “looks impartially on all: those who love him or hate him”.
In the Quran, we’re instructed to “Repel other’s evil deeds with your good deeds. You will see that he, with whom you had enmity, will become your close friend.”
And then there’s this story from the Buddhist tradition:
Atisha, the Indian Buddhist teacher who helped bring Dharma to Tibet, heard lots of good things about the Tibetans: how they were sweet, mild, gentle, peaceful. Since he was going there for a long time, traveling around teaching, he brought along a “tea boy” with a horrible, vicious, divisive personality.
Asked why, he replied that he needed some obstacles, some enemy, to work with. Otherwise his Dharma path might not progress, things might be too smooth and easy and tractionless. “Our enemies are our greatest teachers”, he said. They’re the ones who expose our lack of patience and compassion, and inspire us to work harder to become truly gentle warriors for peace. (Source: Elephant Journal; emphasis mine.)
Yup, whether I look east or west, I’m hearing that my solution must come from within. Why oh why does it have to be so hard?!
Couldn’t they have at least advised me to retreat somewhere until she goes home?
So here I sit, in dread. A key representative of my biggest challenge — dealing with mean people — is coming to visit and there’s nothing I can do about it. The seemingly indestructible gopher won’t go away.
This reminds me of another Bill Murray movie: Groundhog Day. In that one, his character is doomed to repeat the same day over and over and over. Even when he commits suicide, he wakes up the next morning to face the day again. He only escapes once he accepts his fate and becomes a force for good. There it is again: the change from within.
Okay. I’m getting it. I don’t like it, but I’m getting it. It’s time to embrace my gopher.
Damn you Bill Murray! (I mean that in the most adoring fan-like sort of way, of course.)
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