I just finished reading Book of Sighs by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Russo. In it he draws two parallel sets of characters, one which seeks adventure and questions the immediate environment and another that seems to desire routine and an environment that is well defined.
It’s something I’ve noticed for a long time, but have been unable to articulate / address. I’m a live and let live kind of person, and I understand that people have different ways of being happy and making meaning in the world around them. I’m also focused on constantly questioning and re-shaping my world, which clearly puts me in the first category.
Some of the people around me fit into the two categories and there are a few that are somewhere in between. My mom, who I am the most like of anyone in my family, was also an adventurer / thinker / questioner. We share the same sensibility and desire to understand the world around us. In an odd coincidence, both my dad and my ex-wife are similar in their belonging to the routine/defined environment group.
What is less clear to me is the relationship between those two sets. Sometimes they fill a clear need for each other (the adventurous types need stability and vice versa) but I wonder about how compatible they truly are. Does it work on some level but not another? E.g. friends or co-workers vs. spouse/significant other…I’m not sure there’s an exact answer but in my life and in the life of many people I know it seems to make for unhappy people. The “routine” people find themselves insecure and constantly worried by the adventure and questioning, and the “adventurers” are deeply unhappy in a situation that feels rote.