I love the idea of tea.
I collect tea pots. I grow herbs with the intent of brewing tea with them. Tea is comfort, warmth, gentle inspiration. Tea is my ideal.
The fact is, though, I rarely drink tea. My beverage of choice most days is coffee – hot, dark, and caffeinated. Some nights I go to sleep thinking, “I will wake up and drink a very dark, very hot cup of coffee.” Sad, but true.
Until recently, I could not explain this seeming schizophrenia of beverage loyalty. Recently, however, a friend showed me a piece of paper on which was handwritten in pencil two columns of words. In the left column were characteristics of left-brained people, and in the right were – you guessed it – characteristics of right-brained people. On the left were words like logical, analytical, and objective. On the right were holistic, intuitive, and random.
My friend, naturally, prompted me with, “Well? Which are you?”
I was stumped.
My reaction after scanning the list was, “I’m neither.” Then it was, “I’m both.” Then, ultimately, “It depends.”
It reminded me of a discussion of introversion and extraversion I had with my mom last Christmas. She told me I was neither – or both. She introduced me to a new term – ambivert – which is sort of like having an ambidextrous personality. An ambivert is outgoing when necessary and alone when necessary. It depends.
It’s like tea. Or coffee. It all depends on what is necessary for the moment. My brain is not confused about its orientation – it adapts to the need of the moment.
Which has led to another, even more recent, revelation. For me, sustainable, meaningful work adapts to the need of the moment. A time for creative collaboration requires open space, places to sit or stand or pace comfortably, a white board perhaps. Serious writing under a deadline requires isolation and an ergonomically correct workstation. Noodling on a problem – a comfy chair near a fireplace, soft music, a cup of herbal tea (yes, it occasionally fits the bill), and people wandering about that are just in the periphery of my sight line.
Work should be this wonderful. In writing it down, I make myself believe that it is possible.