Plungers & Toe-dippers


My husband thinks you can divide people into two categories: plungers and toe-dippers. He defines himself as a toe-dipper. He doesn’t like to act precipitously. He prefers to consider his choices carefully and use reason and projected consequences to determine the one that’s right for him. Presented with an invitation to do something new and perhaps a little strange, his immediate tendency is to say no.

I’m just the opposite. The time between the appearance of something new and beguiling in my life and my leap to embrace it could be counted in nanoseconds. I act spontaneously, some would say impulsively. If I don’t fully understand all the ramifications of one of life’s invitations that I’m allured to, I’ll say yes now, with the promise to myself that I’ll resolve any difficulties when and if they arise.

Andy and I often get impatient with each other over our individual proclivities. Nevertheless, over the years, we’ve learned from each other. If he’d listened to me 30 years ago, when we were looking for a home in the country, we might have ended up moving into a collapsing barn without plumbing, albeit with a beautiful landscape. If I’d only listened to him, we’d have missed exploring some amazing places in the world, like South Africa and Bali. Also, in my work with Radical Joy for Hard Times now, I’m blessed to be working with a board president who is constantly (and gently) holding me down and back from making intemperate decisions. (Thank you, Joanne!)

I think the world needs both types of people, and it’s great when our own kind finds and balances with someone of the other kind. Sometimes we need to recognize that some person, place, or event is a unique opportunity and that to delay embracing it is to stay stuck where we are instead of risking some bold new future. Sometimes we need to put on the brakes, lest a rash decision threaten our finances, our friendships, our careers.

What about you? Are you a plunger or a toe-dipper? Are you satisfied with your customary response to the world? How about your partners or your children? What are they like and how do you balance you way with theirs?

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