The Suitcase Lady


April 9, 2013, 10:19 pm

I recently heard a fascinating program on NPR on the virtues of introverts. Bravo! Introverts, for obvious reasons, are loathe to sing their own praises.

People who need periods of solitude, the speaker noted, are often society’s creators and innovators. This view of how things work flies in the face of the current cherished myths on creative thinking. At the moment, group work enjoys a godlike reverence in schools and businesses. We are expected to get our most creative inspirations as a loyal member of a brainstorming team. The best way to kill your grade or your job would be to say, “Let me go to a quiet place and think about that.”

I can report from personal experience that I have never conceived one creative thought as part of a committee given the task of “coming up with ideas.” And I am delighted that research into brainstorming now backs up the frequent futility of these groupthink exercises.

My best ideas strike when I’m alone, without pressure and free to let my mind wander. A long road trip or plane flight is often the incubator. Perhaps the motion puts thoughts in motion.

I love people and believe in contributing to joint efforts. But a distinction must be recognized between coming up with ideas and implementing them. My husband and I frequently collaborate. I conceive the idea for a graphic design and he provides the technical expertise to turn the idea into a reality. We bring our best, but totally different, skills to the table. I also work every week with excellent teachers and librarians. I come with ideas and programs: my peers tailor those ideas for their young people.

I would like to give Dr. Seuss the last word on introverts. He said,”You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.”


1 Comment for this entry

  • eve

    Mary–Ah, yes. I read that book, too. “Quiet . . .”
    I SO identified. Where would I be without my solo walks? My journal scribbling? Thanks for sharing.