Friday, January 21, 2011


I once majored in Ancient Greek.  I do not remember much these days, but I often think about one particular word, δίψυχος.*  It appears often in ancient literature and it means, literally, "of two souls" or "of two selves."  I think of it as "of two minds."

I am so often "of two minds."  Likely this developed partly as the result of being a middle child -- I could look both ways and see a reflection of myself.  I often sat in between my two closest siblings and I developed excellent peripheral vision;  you need to look from both sides of your head when you sit in the middle and it certainly has stood me in good stead as mama to five!

For years, I could see the benefit of this.  I am a good mediator; I can see both sides of the argument.  I forgive easily because I can so empathize with the other person.  I am generally empathetic, which is why babies love me and school principals - not so much!  It makes me easy to hang out with; I am equally fond of martinis and coffee.  Whatever you are in the mood for will probably bring a smile to me, as well.  Prefer beer?  That's fine with me.  Iced tea?  I can go there! Sweet or un-sweet?  No matter -  I love them both.

So you see the trouble.   For δίψυχος also means wavering and fickle; in fact it points to a kind of faithlessness.  When, for example, I am in a leadership role, sometimes people just want to be led.  They lose faith when I present too many options;  and the internal pressure to commit sometimes catapults me into bossiness.  It's a kind of dissimulation.  And it can be frustrating as heck.

I am easily distracted, I am indecisive,others doubt me and  I often doubt myself.  On the other hand, I have a knack for soothing, for helping people see the other side, for loving challenging people because I can just see the hurt child beneath.

I wonder how much of my dissimulation comes about because I put myself in situations that are actually too much of a stretch for me?  I know it sounds like I am wimping out but truly, I wonder, isn't there some innate value in realizing how I am made and embracing it?

To reach my full "potential" shall I see this as personality flaw and work to overcome it?  Or is it in fact possible that there is room in our world for the middle child with eyes on both sides of her head?  Perhaps our society needs a little δίψυχος now and then.

But I can't say for sure, because of course, I am of two minds about it! (Wink.)

*Transliteration: dipsuchos

1 comment:

T. Craig said...

Very open, vulnerable, and insightful post. Thanks for sharing! As a middle child myself, I see some of the same issues that you so eloquently expressed. Thanks again for revealing your insights.