Deb and I have just come back from…meandering. We were in “the Southwest” of the country visiting various canyons and Native American cliff dwellings and the like. This, like most of our travels are begun with a general thought or direction followed by a commitment to…meander. We stop, stay, leave, go, and even return as our collective heart desires. Meandering works for us most of the time as we are usually able to find a motel that can accommodate our travel style. Occasionally, we get stuck having to sleep in an undesirable Motel 1 or pay an outlandish price for finding the last bed in the resort hotel. Still, we are willing to pay the price of a cheapy motel or an expensive motel because it serves our traveling style. Besides, most of the time when we travel we are looking for “hiking and history” so our accommodations are not particularly important.
The word meander comes from the Greek word for river: meandros. We learned that while we were meandering through Greece eight years ago. Because we often travel off season our meandering style works pretty well because we aren’t competing with a lot of other tourists. But we had to deal with the chilly nights in Greece in February where heat in the winter is some kind of four-letter word for the Greeks (and most Europeans, I think). And frankly, there is a lot more meandering in southern Europe (Italy, Spain, Greece, etc.) than there is in northern Europe and the U.S. We’ve meandered through Italy, the Northwest, and the national parks in the Rockies area. When we first lived in Newfoundland, Canada, we meandered all over the island and came to understand that we had traveled more on the Newfoundland island than most Newfoundlanders, who are, by the way, also meanderers, usually on the sea.
Meandering can be seen as a style of life or a style of personality. A good way to understand meandering is to consider it on a continuum of boundaries. Meandering tends to be done by people who are wide/low boundary people compared to people who are narrow/high boundary people. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator-II (MBTI) identifies meanderers as “P” people and more planful people as “J” people. Actually the P stands for “perception” and the J for “judgment,” which means that so-called P people like to gather information (perceive) and J people like to evaluate (or judge) information. Since we need both to gather information and to evaluation information, it is obvious that both perceiving and judging are necessary in life. It tends to be, however, that most people are pretty strongly one way or the other. Both Deb and I are “P people,” and hence meanderers.
Learning and living with both wide/low boundary (P) elements of life and people in life as well as narrow/high boundary (J) elements of life and people can be of immense benefit. There is great value in both of these ways of life, but these differences can cause equally immense difficulties, especially if significant others are different in this boundary orientation. Furthermore, there are dangers to both, like not being able to find a suitable motel if you are meandering, or having all your motels lined up ahead of time only to have your car break down 100 miles short of your planned motel stay.