A biography about Charles Schulz’s biography was recently released, and the blogosphere has had a field day analyzing it. While the Amazon reviewers are apparently disgusted by the dirt that Michaelis dishes up, other readers have found it wonderful to discover/have it confirmed that the creator of such a well-known cultural phenomenon as Peanuts was all too human.
This Recording’s analysis uses the image of the wolf a lot, which is, I guess, a popular metaphor for the loner. Except that that isn’t usually what happens in nature. Wolves tend to hunt in packs. They have hierarchical societies. They’re pretty similar to humans, in a lot of ways. That’s probably why we got along so well back in pre-history, resulting in their domestication. (I glance at the two mutts sleeping lazily outside.)
I suppose more appropriate animal analogs would be the tiger, or the bear. And sometimes lions. (Oh my.) Although there doesn’t seem to be as much literature out there making psychological metaphors about lone tigers or lone bears.
But I stopped to think about this a long while ago. Maybe this sense of exceptionalism is simply a symptom of mental illness, along with my depression and my feeling of alienation from the human race. Sure, I’m an introvert, automatically making me a minority (only one-third of us are introverts), but this feeling of not-fitting-in has gone back along way.
Even in high school, I would half-jokingly tell my oldest friend that I had a terrible inferiority complex because of my superiority complex. My sense of alienation has contributed a lot to my depression. Maybe it was all just a rationalization back when I was a lonely kid, but I used to console myself with the thought that I was smarter than all those guys who made fun of me in elementary school.
And in a lot of ways, I recognize that just statistically speaking, I *am* exceptional. (You know, how everyone is unique. Just like everybody else.) But there are plenty of people in similar circumstances to mine who live relatively normal lives. You know, the whole meeting people, making friends, falling-in-love thing.
I’ve just given up on it. I’ve probably gotten as much mileage as possible with the rationalization that I don’t have enough time. For one thing, as I’ve said, lots of other people in my circumstances have time to have relationships, marriages, and kids. For another, I’ve just used it too much. If I really wanted to, I could make time.
But there’s the rub. I’m not sure what I want. The other rationalization I make is that I think my job contributes to my non-desire to meet people. Maybe it’s overstating things, but I feel like the physician has taken on some of the duties that used to be the exclusive demesne of the priest or shaman. Think about it. You tell your physician things that you tell no one else, maybe not even your spouse. (Mostly because people don’t have very many conversations about the excretion of bodily fluids.) There is a particular relationship of trust involved with talking to patients, and maybe, as an introvert, it’s just too draining. I just have no desire to meet new people. No desire to go out there, make friends, hang-out.
Maybe it’s just my depression again.
But still, the image, however erroneous, sticks. The lone wolf. Wandering around the wilderness. The lone bear doesn’t seem the same. (Although I suppose there’s Beorn the Shape Changer from The Hobbit.) Nor the lone tiger.
Am I happy? Not really. But I’m not sure what would make me happy. And I’m not sure it would be right to drag someone into my cloud of depression.