“That very month was September, and as fine as you could ask.”

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Our place is well-nigh gorgeous right now. And it’s funny how being sick and couch-bound made me notice all the blue skies, wind and sunshine out there.

There’s something about being in your pajamas and surrounded by wadded tissues while sitting by a window that lets in peeks of a glorious early September that makes you feel . . . wistful. So yesterday, when I had a bout of energy, I snatched my camera and tromped outside, determined to take a few beautiful (if amateur) photos and feel better about my creative exercises overall.

Sometimes I think God must drop a cold in my lap to help me slow down, rest, and think a bit more deeply. I must say, I’ve greatly enjoyed and appreciated this particular opportunity. Having discovered my predominately sanguine temperament, I’ve been realizing with greater clarity how I can find it easy to feel earnest about doing things right, and yet feel interiorly scattered about how well, exactly, am I living my life, without precisely knowing why. (If that doesn’t make sense, I apologize.)

So enter a cold, observations on the beauty of nature . . . and books.

Over the past week of sickness, I’ve been reading a great deal (shock):

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I like to keep my lap full during weeks such as these.

The Temperament God Gave You is highlighted in the above photo because it was another of my birthday presents (the rest of which I will continue to chronicle)! And it’s been a great read. I feel pretty fortunate to be able to absorb all this insight and advice in advance of my future life (and please don’t make a snide remark about how we’re always in advance of our future lives . . . my brain is only beginning to resurrect); particularly insights about temperamental combinations in marriage, parenting, and so on. It’s highly interesting and I look forward to being able to put it into practice one day!

By the way, reading this book also inspired me to further hone my correct knowledge of my temperament combination, which upon investigating wound up being around 65% sanguine and 35% phlegmatic–a perfect fit for yours truly (agh, especially the natural weaknesses . . . thank heaven for the Church and the Sacraments!):

Strengths and natural virtues

active, affectionate, affable, animated, ardent, carefree, compassionate, cheerful, creative, docile, eager, enthusiastic, entertainer, expressive, generous, fashionable, flexible, forgiving, funny, fun-loving, high-spirited, imaginative, joyful, light-hearted, lively, open, optimistic, outgoing, popular, responsive, resilient, sensitivity, sparkling, spontaneous, story-teller, vivacious, warm-hearted

Weaknesses and natural vices

attention-seeking, changeable, chatty, distractible, disorganized, emotional, tendency to exaggerate, faddish, fickle, flighty, frivolous, forgetful, gossipy, inconstant, insincere, scattered, sensual, smart-alecky, superficial, prone to vanity, undisciplined

If you are a sanguine-phlegmatic, you are blessed with an extremely likeable personality.

You are an extraverted, optimistic, warm individual who readily connects with others and is well-liked by all. You are fun-loving, enthusiastic, friendly, and inspiring (sanguine), but somewhat cautious at times, and also highly sensitive to other people’s moods, emotions, likes and dislikes (phlegmatic). You desire harmony in relationships and deeply value your friendships. You place a high value on doing what is kind. 

You are easy-going, creative,  imaginative, caring, generous, flexible, and spontaneous. You may be considered “emotional” because of your easily aroused feelings, your attentiveness to relationships, and your tender heart.  In a relationship, you may gravitate toward a logical, organized, strong-willed and decisive partner–someone who makes decisions quickly and provides strong moral certitude and structure to your life. You can be easily influenced by others’ opinions. Many sanguine-phlegmatics are drawn to teaching, parenting, the helping professions, and volunteer works for the betterment of society. You place a high priority on your personal search for meaning and self-identity, but this search always includes your friends and family and your community.

Your weaknesses are superficiality, indecisiveness, disorganization, and procrastination. Often you find it difficult to know exactly how to state what you mean, or how to express yourself logically; this contributes to a tendency to talk more than is needed or to provide more detail than is necessary.You may find yourself blurting out something without thinking, or spending too much time seeking advice only to find yourself more confused than you started, or oversleeping every day this week — despite all the best of intentions. You may find yourself becoming overcommitted because you simply can’t say “no” and have a strong need to be liked/please people. A typical sanguine-phlegmatic trick is to spend too much money shopping or (better yet) dining out with friends, and then to put off balancing the checkbook (too much work, too many other distractions) until it is hopelessly behind. Now you are overwhelmed with everything that has piled up! You may complain half-heartedly, blame circumstances, or go shopping.  You may have a tendency to personalize things. This can lead to misunderstandings. For example, if the boss says, “We are not meeting our quotas,” the sanguine-phlegmatic thinks, “Is he angry at me?” If her best friend says, “I really can’t wear red lipstick,” the sanguine-phlegmatic will think, “She’s trying to tell me that my lipstick looks terrible!” After all, the sanguine-phlegmatic has a double-dose of feeling; twice-blessed by the tendency to prioritize relationships and harmony.

So yes . . . a lot of self-knowledge going on around here 😉

Predictably, I’ve also been re-reading endless excerpts from The Wife Desired, because that’s how I indulge myself when I’m sick. Also, Letters from Pemberley made the stack because, over Labor Day weekend, we watched the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice (which in my opinion is an absolute cinematic masterpiece . . . sigh) and Letters is such a lovely and fun sequel to the story. I should be finished re-reading it just in time to embark on a celebratory re-read of The Lord of the Rings, beginning on September 22nd (Frodo’s and Bilbo’s shared birthday, of course).

And then there’s been Amusing Ourselves to Death. Despite my masked complaints about the initial difficulties of the first few chapters (simply because the logical side of my brain is not exercised as frequently as the creative side)  . . . it has now completely absorbed me across the past week, and yesterday especially.

It’s difficult to surmise this book well; one really does just have to take the time to read it in full. It’s a stunning and inarguable exposition of the shambles of our media-defined culture (and this book was written decades ago . . .). To be clear, Postman is not even speaking of America’s moral shambles here as much as he describes what’s become a complete lack of reason, coherence, relevance and context in how the vast majority of America thinks, converses and perceives pretty much everything in daily life; how our culture has regressed from seeking to be truly informed, to simply seeking to be amused, and without realizing it. It’s . . . deep.

We all, from time to time, most likely pause and contemplate how an overindulgence in media can gradually disconnect us from the reality of our personal lives, both physical and spiritual. It can result in our living in a castle in the air, so to speak. And this is where prudence and moderation must come in, especially for the sake of our spiritual lives as well as our overall health.

While this isn’t the point of Postman’s Amusing, per se, I’ve still been pondering my own usage of media and realizing how much more alive I feel, how my interior scatteredness or lack of quiet recedes, the less I use media in general, and the more I simply live, think, reason, act, give, contemplate, speak . . . and pray.

And yes, I really did just type this up in a blog post. Oh irony of ironies.

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So yes . . . this has been my September so far. A cold, some books, and somewhat deep thoughts. And decent-ish pictures which make me feel like a decent-ish photographer. What more could one want? 🙂

*the post title is a quote from the opening chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring. Of course.



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