12 November 2012

Forest vs the trees

big picture vs details. ideas vs action.

so, when dave got back from finland and we fell back in to our regular ways, i realized maybe the reason the solo week went so well was that i was totally in control of the schedule, the food, the pace, the choices given to X, etc. i think im a control freak. lol. i knew this before of course, but its been masked for quite a while because i have had no control over so many things for so long that i forgot the feeling. well, with the solo experience, i had something recent to compare and contrast. initially, our first day back together with dave was a little rough. it made me confused and wonder "what the hell? things were going so smoothly when i was alone but i enjoy having dave around much more. what can i learn from this? what can we change?". i kept trying to figure it out, and then i realized that it had to do with our roles of what we bring into our relationship and our family dynamic. this information wasnt new to me, more like a "duh" moment, but at least it gives me more context and understanding and ideas for how to make things run more smoothly in the future.

i think it comes down to, for me, big-picture vs detail people. im sure there are all kinds of blends when it comes to couplings, but dave and i are fairly strongly in one camp or the other, can you guess who is who? you can see it in our jobs: a phd typically has lofty questions that they want to answer and often their career direction and the kinds of problems they want to solve are formed and managed by themselves. there is no requirement for being organized however, just a burning desire to puzzle away at something, endlessly, until you look up one day and see the path that your work has taken you on behind you. at least i think thats how it works for those types. i cant say for sure because for me, with a masters degree, im often in the role of helping a phd-type accomplish answers to those lofty questions...you want to know if your summary measure for health inequalities produces useful and interesting results, give me the data and i will get on that! i break it down into action steps and attack each step and assess and tweak and troubleshoot. i love the details, but i freeze up at the idea of having to come up with the framework on my own. no thanks. this big picture v details example not only applies nicely to our jobs, but it also explains our roles in our relationship with each other and as parents.

generally, to my mind, big picture people are warm and comforting and creative. they provide a special nuance and atmosphere to life that i find very appealing. it often feels like once theyve made up their mind they can just will something to be so, like magic. left to their own devices, even those who are really bad at planning can often end up with what they wanted and are happy with the path that took them there. now this "magic" may indeed involve stress, and/or a form of planning that is unknown to me, but its a mystery to me all the same.

on the other hand, detail people, at least to me, seem colder. i guess this comes from dissecting every whimsical thing down to its working parts, asking all the questions, teasing out all the mysteries in the curiosities until the thing goes a little limp. but to me, that process is comforting. ive never felt that my asset was warmth, or fun, or energy. my assets lie in getting shit done, putting a plan into action, making a dream into a reality, taking the hand you are dealt and figuring out the best way to get through it. this is why its so easy for me to default to dolling out advice instead of just giving a hug and a "youre awesome, youll figure it out"...my default is to attack a problem with solutions. i think this drives dave insane sometimes. its quite hard, for anyone, to understand a "type" that is motivated and driven in a way that is so different from your "type".

i found from my week alone with X that we could fulfill the days duties with great precision and ease, but perhaps fewer laughs and less liveliness than usual. thats what dave provides, the light to my dark, the inspiration for my drive, flow when i am blocked, and warmth where i am cold. i am not a lemming but im also not creative, sometimes i need his vision to help me cut a path through the trees. im good at dodging obstacles and plotting a course, but without him i have a hard time deciding which forest to enter in the first place. this is why ive really never struggled with the idea of following him along his career. im a strong female, im not giving away my path in life in order to help support him. the path is ours, we move together as one, hopefully as a well oiled machine. he is the compass that points us in the right direction, and i am the engine that gets us to where we are going.

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