“You mean, you haven’t even been outside yet today?” Austin exuberantly inquires, his baby blues sparkling at me with incredulous laughter. That often happens when he comes home from work on my off-days and, without thinking, I ask him what the weather is like outside. (Then at lightning speed he grabs my waist and teasingly pinches my sides because somehow that question makes me cute.) It’s true; I’m the quintessential homebody… a true introvert. Somedays, the clock strikes five in the afternoon before I realize I haven’t so much as peeped out the window. It’s not that I haven’t been taking care of my house all afternoon; I’m just [usually] content to do my thing, at my own pace.
While I do admit it’s a little absurd to go all day without even poking my nose through the blinds, I believe contentment like this isn’t nearly as idle or colorless as our society may influence us to think. In fact, my personal experience tells a different story, one where I’ve actually known contentment to be more productive & colorful at times than dashing through endless task lists and cramming in as many new “experiences” as possible.
So in my dim bathroom with glowing, flickering candles arranged all around me, and foamy, winking bubbles up to my neck, last week I indulged in a luxurious bubble bath. I don’t remember the last time I did that, but the pressure of cultural norms began to subtly yet faithfully accuse me of wasting time, and I was reminded that I have goals and tasks awaiting me. Perhaps I should at least play a podcast, that traitorous little nudge inside of me suggested. You know, to do something spiritual or productive as long as I’m going to just sit here. But as I thoughtfully observed fine steam lazily wafting off of my skin in the light of a candle, all of that vaporized with it, too.
That morning in the bath, I had my own eureka moment: Observing & reflecting on your world isn’t idleness any more than busyness is experiencing it. On the contrary. I think we experience more of the world when we reflect on it.
We are inner-beings, you know. Our experience of the world is never merely outward.
It isn’t that I want to change everyone else into an introvert too; of course not. I simply hope to offer freedom through another perspective. Freedom from this pressure to constantly produce & achieve. Freedom to experience life differently than we’re accustomed to, as what I call “homebody adventurers.”
What are some habits of the healthy, well-balanced “homebody adventurer”? Here are four that I’ve observed…
1. They manage their energy, not time. This one is the most revolutionary, I think. Like busy bees, we do our best to manage time. We zip from engagement to engagement like honeybees flit from flower to flower. “Time is valuable,” we’ve heard it said, and that is true. But if society errs, it seems to err on the side of busyness. I’ve noticed that homebody adventurers find their physical, mental, and even emotional energy to be of even more value than time itself. To them, a “full life” entails more than a full calendar; it means being able to enjoy their comings and goings from a place of rest & enthusiasm rather than fatigue & obligation.
Living in such a way that prioritizes energy over time can be challenging amidst the pressure of schedule, commitments, and expectations. It takes strength to make the decision to disappoint someone when you technically have the time, but inwardly you’re running on fumes. And it takes focus to discern what your true priorities are, and stay with them at the pain of the pressure to be busy and “productive.” Strength and focus are hardly adjectives of the idle.
Now, are there times to prioritize time over energy? Undoubtably. Wisdom comes in discerning the difference at every situation as they come. But for homebody adventurers, prioritizing time over energy never seems to become a lifestyle. I love what Christina Cheiffo shared on Instagram which goes right along with this: “I’m increasingly realizing the benefits of being home and relaxing in our own space. This means fighting my inclination to fill up the family calendar and say yes to everything that comes up, but I’m going to work on it. I’m realizing that having ‘no plans’ as a family is an important part of life, and not just a void to fill.”
2. They read good books. I love this idea that good literature can actually create a type of “experience” for us that we could never attain in our lifetimes, like the astronaut in space or a day in the life of a royal butler. “When you read you can have every adventure,” says Janette Oke’s character in her novel Love Comes Softly. “In the pages of a book you can be anyone you ever dreamed of being… They can never tell you you’re too young to slay the dragon — because it all happens right here, where it’s safe.”
I also like the idea that quality literature compels the reader to reflect on the scruples, limitations, and possibilities of life by exposing them to unlikely, but relatable scenarios. (And as Oke notes, I love that this exposure is perfectly safe!)
3. They journal. Or blog. Or vlog. Or scrapbook. Or find some way of documenting life, so they may then reflect upon it. Now when it comes to taking photos and videos, I believe there’s probably a healthy tension between documenting life via photography, and living life in the moment. That is, observing great things with my own eyes and not mostly through the lens of a camera.
Leaving room for thoughts and feelings is ultimately the key here, whatever it looks like for each individual. Homebody adventurers don’t simply check experiences off of a list and move on in a forgetful, “I came, saw, & conquered” fashion. The important thing is that they allow every adventure, encounter, and event to move them and add meaning to life.
4. They’re not afraid of the “white wall,“ meaning stillness and silence. Studies show that whenever you engage in mindless activities such as folding laundry without the stimulation of podcasts, audio books, TV shows, music, or anything that stimulates the mind, the brain shifts to default-mode, or auto-pilot. I love this 2-minute TED Talk about allowing ourselves to be bored! “By doing nothing,” says Manoush Zomorodi, “you are actually being your most productive and creative self.” Homebodies who bravely venture into “boredom” and allow their minds to wander actually free their minds to connect life’s dots, create meaning, draw conclusions, and stimulate creativity!
By taking that luxurious bubble bath (where I was completely unplugged and in default-mode), I naturally found myself reflecting back on things and tapping almost effortlessly into my creative side. I even added about three exciting new blog post ideas to my running brainstorm list, and that was huge for me.
Friends, this is the art of being.
The art of being is intentionality without having to try so hard. It’s letting your head wander into the clouds… only, being intentional about which clouds.
POST SCRIPT: I want to clarify that being a homebody adventurer doesn’t need to mean you are introverted. Sometimes I think there tends to be this war between Introvert and Extrovert, over which has more value. I simply think of it this way… you’ll make the most of your extroverted-ness if you give yourself time and space to examine your life, and you’ll be the best introvert if you embrace who you are but push yourself to connect, participate, and experience. After all, if a homebody never busies himself, he’ll soon run out of things to reflect on …and that’s when idleness sets in. The key is reflection. Socrates once said “the unexamined life is not worth living.” I’m adding to that, and you’ve got to go out and live your life if you want something to examine.
Did you think of more habits homebody adventurers can add to this this? Please do comment them below!