A couple years ago, a woman I know developped a rare condition. The symptoms of her condition, affecting a mere 6,000 people in the world, are mostly invisible, so her regular doctors had a hard time believing she was really in pain. After about year of physical pain coupled with the psychological torment of watching her life unravel, no longer able to work, drive, think straight, or get enough sleep, and not knowing why, she eventually- and incredibly- found a specialist a mere ten hours away who knew about her illness, a massive comfort after encountering hostility and skepticism from her general practitioners.
It's a long weekend and I don't feel like writing something serious this morning, so I'm posting something fun. As my girlfriend has sent me pictures of her babies for the last year and a half, I can't help but notice they both look so much like her and not her husband, who is a Type 9. I know this is totally subjective, but I wonder if that's a thing with Nines,
I discovered Nathaniel Rateliff a couple months ago and still can't get enough of his music. He has a wide range of vocal styles from ballad to blues, and he has a powerful command of words- he can paint a stunningly vivid mental picture of a scene with a guitar, a microphone, and a couple back-up musicians.
What I love about his story is what he's overcome to get where he is. He's originally from a musical family from Hermann, Missouri where he would play the drums for the family band. Originally he thought of himself as a future drummer, but then started writing, and because his dad had taught him how to sing the different harmonies, he had that under his belt and eventually, he moved to Denver, Colorado to pursue his musical career. He almost gave up on his dream while still in relative obscurity, and he struggled with an alcohol addiction for decades before one day going into a delirium and begging people to take him to a place to dry out, nobody believing that he really needed help. Once he got clean, he had "a lot more time to write songs", he says. He put together the Night Sweats, the back-up portion of his band, and has now burst out onto the scene, appearing recently on Jimmy Fallon for an unbelievable performance. I've heard him while working out at GoodLife Fitness and blaring in the car next to me at a red light in downtown Regina.
His most recognizable song is Son of a Bitch, about his drinking, and you can tell in his voice that he's aching from being so tired of his addiction, but it also just makes you want to get up and dance.
Rateliff seems to be an Enneagram 9w8 because in his interviews he's quite self-effacing like a Nine, dumbing himself down a bit, but he has a subtly smart, unassuming, driven focus to his work like a powerful Eight would have. According to Riso and Hudson, there aren't as many 9w8's in the world, so when you find them it's a special treat (although they do say George W. Bush was a 9w8- which I guess makes sense because there's that "oh I'm just a dumb ol teddy bear" exterior with a powerful laser focus underneath that is aimed at getting exactly what he wants. You just know people are [mis]underestimating him and he's smarter than he portrays himself to be.)
Anyway, I'm glad Rateliff is using his powers for good, I just love his story of overcoming and I hope he goes far.
America's got some pretty entrenched and bitter divides going on. Whites and blacks, rich and poor, creationists and evolutionists, gun-control activists and gun-owners, immigration-lovers and immigrant-haters, LGTB supporters and conservative Christians. So it was a pretty powerful week in terms of the Supreme Court decision to make gay marriage legal in every state, the Confederate flag coming down, the Affordable Health Care act being spared a blow in the courts, and Obama giving such a moving tribute at Clementa Pinckney's funeral. Those crisscrossing divides were in the spotlight all week highlighting the complex layers of loyalties in politics, religion, and race in America.
Last week for Father's day, I went to church and learned my own lesson about religious divides. Going to church was the last thing I wanted to do that morning, but my dad had requested it as his Father's day gift, and then the Saturday night before, I had a dream that he was waiting for me to come to church. When I dream about stuff, I figure it must mean something, (and I also have an abiding fear of regretting things on my death bed), so off I went. As I was getting dressed that morning, I was cynically thinking I could use the morning as breathing practice. For example, I get provoked by closed-mindedness, and it's my practice to sense into my body and connect with my breathing when provoked so I don't get lost in mental fantasies of strangling this person.
The speaker that morning was a counsellor at a religious pregnancy centre. She stood up there and told the story of her life, basically, how she was given up for adoption by a man who denied being the father and didn't want her. She had great adoptive parents, but then, after getting their permission, sought out her birth dad later in life. When she found him, he was open to meeting her, but was dying of cancer, and just didn't have much vocabulary to talk about any of his pain with her. He had been an alcoholic all his life, married to an older woman with 7 kids, and never had any kids of his own apart from her. She was able to be with him when he died, but she still felt incredibly bitter and angry that her time with him slipped through her fingers. She did get one bonding experience at the very end, but it wasn't enough. Then after that, her son-in-law (father to her grandkids) died in a motorcycle accident. She talked about how dads are super important in a kids' life, and I didn't agree with all the religious interpretations of everything she went through, but I found I couldn't be cynical anymore with this woman's sad story. It's like when you hear of pain like that, you just can't get caught up with religion at that point- you just see a really vulnerable person trying to make sense of the shit that got thrown on them.
At some point, I forgot my plan to work on my breathing- I just wans't compelled to strangle anyone despite the religious overtones of the message. I thought about that later- pain has to speak louder than religion if you're going to be a decent person. You can believe in God, or you can believe in evolution, but a story of abandonment and love lost has got to touch you.
This past week, Obama proved he's a great person for bridging America's divides. A half-black, half-white man, a Democrat and a Christian, a powerful politician who himself has been the victim of racism (and someone whose own dad also abandoned him at an early age), brought several groups together just by virtue of giving the eulogy for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor at Emanuel African Methodist in South Carolina last week.
This past year has seen incident after incident of ridiculously violent actions directed at African Americans going about their daily business, which has been met with wave after wave of anger at the police force. A lot of that anger obviously comes from the Black community, which has a high proportion of Christians to athiests, but which is mostly made up of Democrats. White Democrats have also been vehemently angry against the police force. I think this is statistically valid, (but I'm also writing this at 2:09 AM) but I believe White Democrats tend toward agnositicism. So when nine black Charleston residents were violently murdered last week while studying the Bible, it brought a lot of agnostic Democrats to the table to stand up for people they're usually separated from by an idological divide.
Even as an agnostic, it wasn't too hard to want to join in with Obama when he started singing Amazing Grace during Pinckney's eulogy. As one youtube commentor summed it up, "I'm a strident athiest, but I approve of this message." Maybe someday it won't take a tragedy for us all to see people on the "other side" as a vulnerable human too, trying to make sense of their world with the best they've got.
A Type 9 in my life has been going through some issues, so I thought I'd read about them this morning. Type 9's, at the top of the triangle, represent the archetype of "going along to get along"- that part in all of us that wants to accomodate whatever's happening around us so as not to cause any conflicts. But whereas other types are vulnerable to the phenomenon incidentally, Nines self-absent on a meta-scale with their very lives.
"By accomodating others", says Beatrice Chestnut, "and avoiding conflict in order to achieve comfort, they end up becoming deaf to their own inner voice". Nines have a naturally good beat on the energy in their environment and it pulls them away from their home of the self ("the root of all wanting and choosing" Chestnut quoting Homer) toward fusing with the group's goals. It is very difficult for them to know what they want, and would prefer just to acquiesce to the group's decision.
I was thinking about groupthink the other day, and it provides a good analogy for how insanely difficult it is for Nines to pull away from the another's energy to their own "ground". In the 1970's, Yale research psychologist Irving Janis demonstrated the tendency to suspend our own way of thinking for the sake of the group's cohesiveness with several studies, one of them being the American Soldier Project. In it, he found that American soldiers' main motivation on the battlefield wasn't pride in their country or devotion to the idea of freedom- it was the connection the soliders felt with each other, having forged bonds under intense stress. The unity they forged provided the foundation for subsequent decisions that they as individuals, they probably wouldn't have carried out had they not been part of the group.
Where there's a cohesive group, there's pressure to acquiesce and ignore dissenting ideas. Riso-Hudson's wake-up call for a Nine is when they outwardly accomodate themselves to others, but unconscious melding can happen to any one of us, and it's an invitation to be aware of when your voice may be needed.