My favorite thing about being an INTP is the internal world I inhabit. I live mostly in my mind, thinking in multiple dimensions in a mental universe much more colorful and absorbing than the external world that I usually find myself in. Who has time to remember where I put the car keys or keep an organized filing system when there are mental landscapes to explore, mysteries of the universe and multiple future possibilities resulting from each minute action to think about? My mind is so meandering that when I sit down to write a blog entry or an essay or email, I have usually composed the entire thing in my mind before my hands have reached the end of the first sentence, and then I forget all of it as my brain is already onto something else. My writing process is rewriting and reading and rereading until I can force my mind to marinate in a thought long enough to fill in the blanks left by dreaming, like trying to force a fence-jumping horse to trot in circles until eventually the steps become regular.
It’s extremely hard for me to escape the internal labyrinth of my mind and focus completely on something external. Often after being lost in thought I look down and am actually surprised by the fact that I have a body, that I’m not just a neural blob floating in infinite dimensions of mental space. Where did these arms come from!? Like the piles of papers and articles scattered in disarray around my desk, I know my body’s there, but it’s just so easy to forget when my mind is somewhere else.
There is a scene I remember vividly: last summer, I’m kayaking on the ocean on a sunny day. The landscape is not outrageously beautiful, but the colors are bright and sparks of white light bounce off the waves crests on their way to my retinas. I felt as though I’d opened my eyes and suddenly found myself there. Suddenly I felt very much a part of the world of hard things: rock and bone and muscles and skin. I felt like a different person, but I didn’t know how or if it was good or bad. I was so stripped of my internal universe that I had no automatic value system to reference. It wasn’t a feeling of depersonalization, when the self dissolves into the solvent of spacetime and seems to disappear. It was the opposite: I was as aware of myself as ever, but had hopped across the event horizon between my mind and the world. For a rare moment, I had shed my internal landscape for an external one, and it was so complete that I didn’t realize it until many months later.
I’ve had many eureka moments, consciousness-raising experiences, and epiphanies. I’ve had entire universes opened in my mind by a single note in a violin concerto or a gesture of a dancer’s arm; months of thinking and nested tiers of ideas brought on by a single comment heard at a scientific conference. For an INTP, consciousness-raising experiences are a dime a dozen. They are pretty much a hobby of mine. But paradoxically, some of the most profound consciousness-raising experiences I’ve had were occasions when I’ve been able to escape my own consciousness.