Day 453: Different languages (and dances)

Yesterday, I saw a woman who had never seen a therapist before.  Her source of pain: “My 24-year old son has no friends.” Her worst fear: that he would end up alone and unhappy.

As she spoke to me about her son, giving more details about his behaviors, I developed an initial theory. Her son was an extreme introvert, in a family of extroverts.

As an introvert, he valued time alone. As extroverts, the rest of the family valued time with other people. As a result, the family:

  1. worried about him and
  2. tried to get him to behave more like them.

I told the mother about a book, which she had seen:


We agreed it might be helpful for her to read this book, to better understand her son.

In the course of our discussing how she might change her interactions with him, I used this metaphor:

It’s like he is speaking a different language than you … as  if he is living in a different country. To connect more effectively with him, it might help to understand his language better, when you’re visiting him.

As we talked about what she might do differently (because we both agreed that she could alter only her own behavior, not her son’s), we discussed another metaphor:

When you’re interacting with somebody, you are doing a dance together. People get into habits in how they dance.  If you alter your steps, even just a little, the other dancer has to adjust, somehow. As a result, the dance changes.

She left the session resolved to learn more about his language and to alter her dance steps, to see what would happen.


On Thursday night, I saw Pat Metheny, the jazz guitar player, in concert.

The first time I saw Pat play was in the late 1970’s, at the Paradise in Boston.

(I found that image at Wikipedia, here.)

When I first saw and heard Pat play, that night in 1979, I felt as though he was speaking my language, in a very profound way.

Very soon after my first encounter with Pat Metheny, he was in NYC, where — coincidentally — I was visiting for the weekend.  I made sure to see him again. I felt the same way, all over again.

From that day forth, I have seen Pat Metheny, countless times, in concert, whenever and wherever I can.

Every concert — every concert! — has been sublime.  And that’s an amazing statement for me to write, because — despite the title of this blog — I can be very judgmental (especially regarding music).

For many years, Pat always opened his concerts with the tune “Phase Dance.”

Here’s Pat, in 1991, opening with “Phase Dance” in Portugal:

(thanks to Martin Sepulveda for posting that on YouTube)

This past Thursday night, at the Wilbur Theater in Boston, Pat did some things differently.  That is, he didn’t open with “Phase Dance.” That was expected, because he hasn’t done so, for many years.

Pat played for us, with his Unity Group, for almost three hours. That was expected, too. As I told Michael, when Michael asked when I would be home for the concert: “I’m not sure.  Pat loves to play.”

The show included:

  • The entirety of Pat’s latest album KIN (←→)
  • Duets Pat played with each and every member of his group — Ben Williams on bass, Antonio Sanchez on drums, Chris Potter on saxophone and flute, and Guilio Carmassi on many instruments, including keyboards.
  • Some of the self-playing instruments Pat has created, beginning with his 2010 project “Orchestrion.”


(I found that 2010 image here.)

The first encore, on Thursday night, was “Are You Going With Me? which Pat played with the entire group. I’ve mentioned that song, along my blogging journey, several times before (including a few days ago, here).  I love “Are you Going with Me?”  whenever and wherever Pat plays it. Each time, it’s expected but also unexpected. That is, the tune is familiar, but with a new, amazing solo by Pat.

For Thursday night’s second encore, Pat returned to the stage alone. He sat down, picked up his acoustic guitar, and played a medley of songs he’s written, each of which was so familiar to me, it was beyond language.

Because I’ve heard these songs very differently before — with  a group and with many instruments —  I had trouble putting names on some of them.

I had no such trouble with “Phase Dance.” And I followed it, every step of the way.

Thanks to Pat Metheny, to Susan Cain (the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking), to  group players and soloists everywhere, and to you — of course! — for following me here, today.

Categories: inspiration, Nostalgia, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Post navigation

34 thoughts on “Day 453: Different languages (and dances)

  1. Thank you for your heartfelt Metheny review, Ann. It’s a wonder when you can connect so totally to a body of musical work like you do. Congratulations on seeing him again, differently, like he is and you do every time.

  2. I am listening to Pat now (via your blog). Thank you!

  3. Very nice. His style reminds me of Alex Skolnick. As a garage band guitarist, I refer to this kind of playing as “intimidation guitar”, way above my level….Thanks for sharing.

    • You are very welcome! Among the reasons I love this comment: (1) you have introduced me to Alex Skolnick and (2) when I first met Pat, the album he was playing was called “American Garage.” Thanks!

  4. I think the most important lesson any of us can learn is the only thing we have control over is us. Great post! Glad you enjoyed the concert!

  5. Me too — listening to Pat as I type via your blog. Thanks for that.

    And… thank you for this entire blog and in particular… this statement: “When you’re interacting with somebody, you are doing a dance together. People get into habits in how they dance. If you alter your steps, even just a little, the other dancer has to adjust, somehow. As a result, the dance changes.”

    For years I studied Gabrielle Roth’s work with Ecstatic Dance. What I like most was that every dance was different. Every step unique. Dancing alone, or with a partner was/is always about altering to find a new way to interact.


    Thanks for this blog my friend. wonderful thoughts, words, music and photos!

  6. I actually love peace and quiet, and almost never play music. It’s disruptive to me, and I can’t think when a performance is happening. In the car, rather than listen to music I enjoy listening to Books on Tape. So I can read a book at home and listen to another one in the car.

    Does that make my motto, “Tell me a story?”

  7. “Quiet : the power of introverts” is a really amazing book . I think it would be really great for that family to know about introverts . I dont know how old that kid is but this book do answers many of the questions and clear up the misconceptions that introverts create about themselves because they are forced to see themselves from extroverts’ perception .
    Being an introvert i know how hard it can be for introverts at times . Extroverts and introverts need to understand and respect the needs of one another.No one is superior or better they both have their weekness and strength .Topic of “introversion ” needs to be discussed so that people become aware about it and think beyond the preferred extroverted norms and culture .

    • Thanks for this comment and all your insights. The son is 24. I HAVE to read this book.

      • Yeah do read it 🙂 . Once I started reading it I couldn’t stop untill I have finished it . I can totally relate to the scenarios in this book .

      • I just ordered a copy, thanks to you.

  8. Great stuff!

  9. Hi Ann, Thank you for helping that mother to understand her introverted son. I’m an introvert and have many extroverted friends who all share a belief in the value of extroversion. I like to be with one person at a time and really don’t enjoy parties or group think sessions at all (although I’m pretty good at chairing a meeting). Over the years, sitting with just one person at a time and listening quietly, I’ve made many wonderful friends. Each one of them has remained a life-long friend. Some are introverts. Many are not. I enjoy their (to me) zany energy and am there for them when they collapse from emotional exhaustion, as happen from time to time.My life is so much better because of my friends, introverts and extroverts, optimists and pessimists.

    Some people confuse introversion with shyness. I’m not really shy, although my parents told me that I was when I was a kid. I am an observer, that’s all. i don’t like to be in the front; it’s more interesting from the middle or back.

    What would an introverted youth need in a house of extroverts? Some private space, certainly. Privacy outside the space. (It’s okay for introverts to not share everything, every single thing, with anyone who asks. It is not some mental health disorder.) Love. A library card. A little bit of freedom. And chocolate. That would be my take on it.

    I haven’t read the book you suggested although I’ve seen it around. (Until the book came out, I didn’t realize that anyone really saw being an introvert as a problem! It’s such a huge asset in relationships sometimes, to be happy in the back seat.) I’m glad that you recommended it to her. It’s probably like the instruction manual for her son that she should have been given at his birth.

    My kids are all science and math oriented. I didn’t find a self-help guide for this, but I read Richard Feynman’s Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman and that explained everything. Now I talk the language.

    • My kid is science and math oriented, too, and I know he likes Richard Feynman. I should have included that in my book order for “Quiet.”

      Thanks for this observant comment.

  10. I don’t know Pat but it is lovely to go to a concert sometimes and enjoy it. I went to a local gig yesterday too and it was great, to be there and see the enthusiasm the guys played with. It wasn’t quite my kind of music (I went because I knew the leadsinger as a quiet person, he had a different personality there) but I still loved it, seeing the guitarists singing and playing their heart out!

  11. hey there and thank you for your information – I’ve definitely picked up
    anything new from right here. I did however expertise several technical points using this
    website, as I experienced to reload the site lots of times
    previous to I could get it to load properly. I had been wondering if your web hosting is OK?
    Not that I’m complaining, but sluggish loading instances
    times will sometimes affect your placement in google and could damage your quality score if ads and marketing with Adwords.

    Anyway I am adding this RSS to my e-mail and could look out
    for a lot more of your respective interesting content.
    Ensure that you update this again soon.

    • Welcome, and thanks so much for this comment. I wonder if you have trouble with other WordPress blogs? I definitely picked up some new information from you, also. Thank you for letting me know about your appreciation, about your difficulty loading this site, and all the rest.

  12. Pingback: Day 644: Magical | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  13. Pingback: Day 660: Sold Out | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  14. Pingback: Day 2480: Different | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  15. Pingback: Day 2574: Be Nice! | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: