Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weekend Assignment #337: Running With the Pack (Sort Of)

Ack! I almost forgot to write my own response to Weekend Assignment #337: Lone Wolf, or Part of the Pack? I asked,

Weekend Assignment #337: Lone Wolf, or Part of the Pack?

Some people are happiest when they're part of a group. They may be leader of the pack, or actively contribute to the group's efforts, or simply hang out with the others for companionship, and any scraps they may get. Other people are more the lone wolf type: the explorers, the loners, given to solitary effort and independent thought. Where do you prefer to function in human society: as part of a group, or your own, or in some combination of the two?
Extra Credit: Is there a group with which you're currently affiliated that is especially important to you? What is your relationship with that group?
It probably won't come as a huge shock to you if I identify myself as basically an introvert, a mildly shy, socially awkward person whose emotional life is largely inside my own head. I very rarely go to any sort of party, I don't go out clubbing or drinking, and I don't currently belong to any active fan clubs or other social groups. Even the annual Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles, Gallifrey One, which I attend as often as I can, is nearly as painful to me as it is rewarding. I'm just not all that good at making social connections. My social life consists of online stuff, hanging out with my husband (mostly at home), and taking a few friends to lunch on Sundays.

And yet that's not the whole story. Within my own little groups I do fine, and even tend to be the leader. At various times I've been president, vice president and editor of several different fan clubs, and my small circle of friends these days tends to follow my lead.

More to the point, I have become rather deeply involved with St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in recent years. I carry a torch or a crucifix in procession every week, and help to guide other acolytes through the ceremony. As church bookkeeper I interact with staff and volunteers, and attend monthly Vestry meetings. Most recently, I worked with people from the various "townships" of the church's English Faire, donating and pricing a few thousand dollars worth of junk or treasures, depending on your point of view, and helping out with a technical issue or two before retiring to my hermit cave (with the two parish administrators!) last Saturday to count the proceeds.

It's not exactly life of the party stuff, and very few parishioners will ever be more than acquaintances to me, people I like but don't know all that well. Still, I seem to have found a place in this particular social group, where I can be useful, and sometimes even feel valued. (Other times, not so much.)

Yet I still feel that I mostly skirt the edges of this mini-society. People know my name, but I bet half of them still think that my friend Kevin, who rides to church with me, is my husband. At Coffee Hour after church I tend to hang out with three or four particular friends, plus whoever else happens to sit at that table that week. After more than a decade attending this church, I still don't know everyone's name - but then I suppose that's a pretty high standard for a parish of about 200 people. When working as parish bookkeeper I mostly work on my own, consulting with others as needed.

I'm not hopeless, though. I do know many people's names, and do manage to chat with some of them when the situation is conducive. For all that I tend to prefer my own company in the evening, to the point of being annoyed when friends call me on my cell, I'm not exactly a lone wolf. John's the lone wolf around here, believe me. He doesn't hang out with anyone except me and the dogs, ever. I don't think he's been to any sort of party in nearly a quarter century. He interacts with co-workers at work to the extent that it's necessary, but that's about it.

So where does this place me in this wolf pack metaphor? I'm not exactly a lone wolf, not in the middle of the pack, and certainly not the pack leader. I'm the wolf who runs alongside the others but off to the left a bit, or slightly ahead or behind. I may even wander off to check out an interesting smell. But the pack knows I'll be back soon, and there when it counts.

Or something.



Word in the Hand said...

A lot of similarities with myself. Strangely being very much a lone wolf also joined a Catholic Church called St Michael and All Angels - maybe its Michael - attracts the outsider? where I am involved in leading spiritual worship. But, yes, at the end of even these I go one way and they go another. Being in a college I am surrounded by people soevery few months I go on retreat where I speak to no-one for days (and that's my idea of fun. So, yes, an on-the-edge wolf.

Stephen Watkins said...

Exactly how I feel. Not a lone wolf, but not a pack animal, either. A little of both, as the situation demands. At times I need the pack... and at times I think if I ever see another wolf again, it'll be too soon.