THE INFJs’ SEARCH FOR HOME
The search for one’s home is a noble endeavor. Who wouldn’t want to have a home, right? Yes, I did write a home, not a house. But is there a home for each one of us, waiting to be found by its rightful owner?
Are we all destined to have one to start with? A special place that would make traveling the world pointless. In all honesty, I’d say I don’t think so. And for an INFJ especially, I suspect that such a quest is rather useless. Why?
Because I strongly believe that INFJs don’t really have a true home. INFJs have make-shift homes inside their heads, that expand or contract on demand. INFJs are their own home. Weird? Well, yes and no. Let’s see why that is.
“Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all.” | Hermann Hesse
Escaping The Matrix At All Costs
As an INFJ myself, I’ve always been torn into parts for as long as I can remember. I bet, you know this feeling too! I was fascinated by how naturally people would make a comfy home for themselves and their loved ones.
Homes with loads of memories, precious things, and reliable landmarks. Homes with solid walls and closed windows, behind which one’s life would be fully lived. Homes that could so easily become a trap for the mind, quantum of solace we ought to seek in ourselves first.
In the meantime, I was equally amazed by how flexible that notion of having a home truly was. Secretly, I told myself, this is not made to last forever. Everything can disappear in a blink of an eye! Then what?
What would happen to those people? Beyond the obvious material loss, is there something that can help us cope with such a harsh reality? What would you do? What would an INFJ do? Is it just me guys, but I feel like our Ithaca demands that we walk the path further and harder than any others?
“Once you have tasted the taste of the sky, you will forever look up.” | Leonardo Da Vinci
Small Measures Of Peace Under A Dappled Sky
It seems to me that the concept of a home is never quite fulfilled. For better or for worse, I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t belong. Don’t belong to a particular home.
Don’t belong to a particular time – that notion is highly sensitive for an INFJ – don’t belong to a particular tribe, and certainly don’t belong to the Matrix! Might it be because INFJs question everything, starting with themselves, and never settle for average answers?
Of course, I didn’t stumble upon the Matrix when I was a child and decided it wasn’t for me. I was like Neo with his red pill – just aware enough that something was wrong in my little world – yet unable to pinpoint what it was exactly.
Moreover, there was no Morpheus to offer me the choice between blissful ignorance or unpleasant truth. My red pill was just an open window in an ugly apartment, under a dappled sky. As for my guide, an image of a famous painting by the 17th-century Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer. Small measures of peace, yet ones I still carry with me until this day.
The Astronomer, one of Vermeer’s masterpieces is a tiny work of art on display at the Louvre, in Paris. If you get close enough to this painting the way I did through a reproduction when I was around seven years old, you will see that the world as you know it is in no way the only world that exists.
“The Astronomer’s hand resting on the celestial globe, refers to the vastness of the sky, to this suggestion of the confines of the world, in this closed place where each object looks out. The book towards knowledge, the painting towards the vision, the globe towards the stars, and finally the window towards this distant weft of gold and dreams.” | Ariane Kveld Jaks
Perhaps, it was at this early stage of my life that I got the first clue I was special? Not better, just special. I remember this modest epiphany as if it were yesterday. I felt immediately and deeply connected to the whole world. I felt like a tiny flickering dot deeply immersed into the infinite web of the living.
I could see things. I could be places. I could experience whatever I chose to experience. I realized that I could have one foot into the “real” world and the other foot wandering at will throughout the invisible realm. There wasn’t a particular way for me. I was my way.
I didn’t even need to have a home! Mine was definitely inside my head, without walls and with open windows only. A Memory Palace I could populate with images, emotions, voices, smells, ideas, sounds, words, and gazillion of invisible connections.
Vermeer did that! He showed me the way to the world beyond and didn’t ask me for anything in return, except for my undivided attention.
What You See Is Not What You Get
Arguably, the INFJs’ mind is not the easiest one to satisfy. To us, there will always be this nagging feeling that what we see is not that real. Or, if you prefer, is not the whole reality.
First, our eyes scan the world. Then, our brain acknowledges what is being seen, and finally, our mind starts wandering, making loads of possible connections, and looking for invisible patterns, madly and silently in all directions.
Given that Ni sees what’s unseen, it also makes us feel like we’ll never quite fit anywhere, however welcoming that place might be. At some point, this inability to settle into a house – this “gypsy” syndrome – could easily become our blind spot and isolate us even more, if that’s possible.
Oftentimes, this invisible realm appears more real to us than any other reality. Hence, the constant discomfort with closed spaces, rigid bonds, and predictable life outcomes. Hence the walking paradox that is us, secretly hoping for a validation of our visionary minds in a world that has staked everything on materiality.
As INFJs, we need to follow our vision, be in the flow of our journey, exploring paths outside our homes, guided only by whatever connections our restless brain is making day in and day out.
Perhaps, this is why INFJs need so badly to cross the threshold of their home?
We are seekers who feel energized by dwelling on all the images that appear before our eyes.
We need to stay connected to the unknown, outwit the illusion of WYSIWYG. Knowing is the name of the game.
Bypassing The Matrix With Words, Images, And Open Windows
I have lived in many houses – not homes, I’m afraid – throughout my life.
Each one gave me a fraction of what I needed to survive to make it to the next one. Recently, I came across a beautiful YouTube video by Boom Shikha[i], another fellow INFJ.
She mentioned an old Greek saying, “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit.” Then, she goes along explaining that we never know what impact our work is going to have on people.
[i] A Society Grows Great When Old Men Plant Trees, Boom Shikha
More often than not, we fear that no matter what we do nothing is going to make a difference anyway. This is especially true to INFJs, the most cynical and idealistic beings of all.
Which begs the question: if it does, how does it work? If – like Boom Shikha strongly believes – the fruits of our labor are not ours to enjoy, this sets us free to keep doing whatever work we’re doing, to make the world a better place for all of us. Consequently, a tree in one’s house garden might seem like a good start!
I don’t know about you, but I came to realize that each house I’ve lived in over the years gave me something unique. Most of the time, I couldn’t see what it was. I worried a lot about what I was supposed to learn from each of them. Was I paying attention to its whispers?
What if – as an INFJ and an empath who always struggled to put words on my emotions – the value of each house I lived in, was in its ripple effect on our life and beyond that, on other people’s lives? That I had to lose each of them to gain some practical wisdom.
What if to us INFJs, a house was more of a trigger device for our visionary mind, than a place to simply live in? I look back at some of the houses I have been in, the many gifts that I’ve received even through deep sorrow and harsh loneliness. What helped me? How did I bypass the Matrix?
I don’t speak in a language, I speak in landscapes
To say the rise of the unheard
This tiny world of moss slowly leaning towards the edges
Every moment yet to be born
Every image another threshold
| Ariane Kveld Jaks
Icons Dust, Hallways, The Smell Of Rain And A Nice Typewriter
Images come first, always. Words follow, trying to keep up the best they could. Sounds and smells appear here and there, especially but not exclusively, those coming from nature itself. Rain, of course, but also wind, thunder, birds chirping, the typewriter clacking noise, ocean ebb, and flow, rooster crowing, footsteps in a hallway…
The smell of garden wisterias after the rain, of Amsterdamer pipe tobacco, of mountain pastures, of neoprene glue, of burning coffee, of books ink, of dog paws, of bergamot tea, of freshly cut grass, of Christian Dior Eau Sauvage perfume, of old leather, of wet moss, of horse stables, of cherry trees, of icons wood…
Perhaps, if you’re not an intuitive type, you’ll find it difficult to understand what being a sensor type truly means? To us, everything – including the unseen – is tangible. It has its particular reality, its energy field, and most of all its presence.
I remember one house in particular. It was the house of my great aunt Edith, located in Charente in the South of France not far from the Atlantic coast. I vacationed there every summer with my two brothers. Although I have fond memories of this place, feelings of loneliness and deep alienation are still vivid even today.
An incredibly messy house full of books, cats, dust, obsolete objects, open windows, a dark hallway, and surrounded by a large unattended garden. The house looked more like Noah’s Ark than it did a regular country house.
Yet, it was there I intuited most of what my adult life would be.
Because I was often left alone, I had time to look at things and to listen to the world’s whispers. Soon enough, I realized that most of what I experienced as a child was invisible. It scared me as much as it fascinated me! Was I special, or simply nuts?
I was surrounded by books and words, yet it was images that popped up into my mind nonstop. It was like having an endless Leporello inside my head, constantly adding or moving mental images according to some unpredictable law that had me questioning my sanity very early on in my life.
Images and invisible connections with everything, everywhere, and anytime, waiting to make sense through words. Shapes, sounds, smells, and loads of emotions I would follow upstream, like a tiny rambunctious salmon. I was restless and in exile before I even had a chance to call a place home!
Looking back at my life in that particular childhood house during summertime, I am struck by how unsettled and serendipitous the world was. Nothing made real sense to me, except my visions. Except being present to whatever came to me, through me. Could a home prevent me from doing just that? Does this make sense to you?
The INFJ Writer’s Journey, Art Writing Calling, And a Few Mantras to Call Home
The French writer Jacques Lacarrière once asked “What become of images when we stop looking at them?”. This seemingly trivial question has haunted me ever since I came across it. What if images could be the INFJ’s way to plant a tree whose shade they’ll never sit?
As an INFJ, you’re probably gifted with writing. Words come to you easily, even if the planning and editing process remains a dreadful moment. We are what we are, right? So, how do we – as INFJs – make up for our homeless nature? What can we offer the world instead? What is our Superpower?
Art writing came to the rescue. Art writing? Since we are for better or for worse wired differently, I suggest that INFJs would take full advantage of their unique “DNA”. We feel everything deeply, like emotional sponges.
We are highly intuitive, intense, creative, empathetic, purpose-driven, and above all visionaries.
As an INFJ, it took me a long time to realize that I had the perfect abilities and the perfect profile to become a genuine art writer. I was obsessed with images, always in the lookup for the right words to embody my visions, curious, sensitive, and thirsty for beauty and knowledge. I’ve finally found my calling!
Finding one’s calling is like finding one’s home. All of a sudden, you know that’s the one. Everything falls into place and makes sense to you. It doesn’t mean that’s the end of your troubles, but the pain is no longer pointless.
If every healing starts with a crisis, mine was to honor my calling as an art writer and make peace with my restlessness.
So, what is your calling as an INFJ? Have you found your Superpower, yet? Can you share your mantra(s) with the rest of the world? Cracking your INFJ genius is not an easy task. So, what might help you along this bumpy road?
For me, it was realizing that I would always be different and that I didn’t have to conform to the expectations of the world. That I would never truly thrive in a home, because of the way I see the world. I was gifted with images and words and managed to hit my sweet spot thanks to art writing.
My visions became my treasure trove, along with a few mantras like “No one is you and that is your power”, or “Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself” (Chase Jarvis), or “It is what I do that teaches me what I am looking for” (Pierre Soulages).
I guess, the biggest takeaway from all that is quite simple. Although INFJs are definitely a breed apart, they have a lot to contribute. Whatever passion and purpose they are pulled to, chances are they will make it something valuable to themselves and to the world.
Our voice is still tenuous, yet I can see that our time has finally come. It’s up to us to make it heard now. With images, with words, with visions, with stories, full of meaning and compassion. INFJs are but a little fraction of humanity, yet we are not alone. We are not negligible quantity.
As Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet once wrote: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the ocean in a drop.” Kudos to him.
Ariane Kveld Jaks
[i] A Society Grows Great When Old Men Plant Trees, Boom Shikha
[ii] Eline Gumbert / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)
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