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Are you a scanner?

Updated on June 27, 2011
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I don't know about you, but I've always been the kind of person who will stagnate if I stand in one spot for too long. That sounds a little strange from someone who has lived in the same town for pretty much all of her life so far. But what I mean is that life can pootle* along very nicely for a while, but then suddenly I will get the urge to change direction. It happens a lot. Not regularly or anything, not with any certainty at all, just now and again for no discernible reason. Each time I change direction I think, yes, this is definitely it, this is me for the rest of my life. And then I'm on a path and I can't see any bends or forks in it, and all is rosy and quite exciting. I pootle on down that new road, expecting it to take me on into the sunset (which I estimate to be roughly eighty years down the line from now). And then, right out of the blue, the path veers sharp left, and just like that my dreams and ambitions have completely changed again. And the funny thing is that I don't really notice that it's happened until I think about it some time later.

* 'tootle - informal go or travel in a leisurely way : they were tootling along the coast.' Often changed to pootle, honestly!

I have had many ambitions through my short life so far (nothing unusual there). The first one I remember was that of space exploration. I did want to be an astronaut, for quite a long time too. Unfortunately, I had no academic foresight, and did not really begin to apply myself to school work until, ooh ... last week. I have dreamt of being a surgeon (I don't mind a bit of blood), a cattle driver (I'm not so keen on cows ever since one stood on my foot as it stampeded at an agricultural show when I was ten), a ballerina (I was always the tallest in my class, no-one would ever have managed to lift me), a nun (I think believing in God is a prerequisite for that one), a politician (I have no convictions - oh, I'd have made a perfect politician!), an artist (I can sketch a fairly good pencil drawing), an archaeologist (I like digging in the rain), an actor (aha! I have a degree in Drama), a midwife (I've had kids - how hard could it be to deliver other people's?!) and a novelist. I haven't ruled any of them out yet - though I don't think the Catholic Church would take me on account of my atheism, possibly. That, and the fact that was really Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews who made me want to take Holy Orders. I know that movie, A Nun's Story, was supposed to show convent life as it really was, but come on, Audrey Hepburn? She makes scrubbing your front doorstep look romantic. If she'd made a film about plumbing, I would have wanted to earn a living fixing u-bends.

Apparently, and you may have heard of this, though I had not until recently because I can't sit still for long enough to find things out, but apparently, (incidentally, you may have noticed that sometimes I do like to throw in a very convoluted sentence, just for fun) people like me are called scanners, and it's nothing to do with us liking to make copies of documents. We look about and see pretty things everywhere, and go to investigate, magpie-like. We check out that new thing for a while, and then our eye is caught by something on the periphery, so we go and have a little look at that. Now, I don't know, but I think that there may be two sub-categories of scanner. I think there are those who happily, and even unknowingly, abandon the original activity and move on to the next thing. They probably never think about the things they leave behind until someone says to them 'hey, didn't you want to be a doctor when you were younger?' and they scratch their heads and reply vaguely 'oh yeah, I forgot to do that'. And then there's the other type, and I think this is me, who keeps all dreams and ambitions close to the forefront of the mind, and now and again mentally checks through them to see how things are progressing with each one. For example, the ambitions section of my brain looks like this, rather cluttered:

I'm not quite willing to let go of any of those ambitions just yet, even midwifery, because when I was taking serious steps towards that goal it was such a passionate wish, and I showed signs of having good potential in the field. But time passes, and circumstances change. I would still want to be an actor too, and if I did a play next year and was 'discovered' and catapulted to stardom, well then, that would be lovely. But I still doubt that I would completely give up on any of the other wishes - I could probably tick off the iPhone one at the same time though.

But am I really a scanner? Or have I just not decided where to settle down yet? Might I find my place in the world and be content to stay in it for the rest of my days? Possibly not. My mum is 53, and she has not finished evolving. She changes her ambitions every couple of years, still. Her life is always exciting, always changing - getting caught out by cancer hasn't changed that for her, and in fact, her scanning has probably intensified! I can't really say whether or not I want to be a scanner forever - it just is what it is, and I like it, for now. There may come a time when I wish I could just stick at something.

Until that time comes, I will carry on pootling...

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    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 5 years ago

      Hi there Linda,

      What a great hub and fun read! I am the same way..I stuck with nursing for many years but changed within the field early on. Would learn the area, get good at it, and need a change. I love so many things. I wanted to be a singer, artist, and of course a writer. I once wanted to be a Dolphin trainer, a marine biologist..I saw the movie Free Willy..lol..life is always full of hopes and dreams. I am 51 and I hope I will be like your mum forever dreaming and loving life with each new adventure.

      Take care and thanks again,

      Sunnie

      PS I am now an official pootler..haha

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      Are you an Aries? That might explain your sudden enthusiasms for things, and sudden desire to move on to the next thing.

      I,m very much that way myself.

      Cheers for a clever and witty article.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Oh, wonderful Sunnie. I forgot to include marine biologist in my list! I fancied that when I was snorkling last year :) Terrified of deep water though, so it's probably never going to happen. He he - pootle on, Sunnie, pootle on.

      Ooh, Chris, I am an Aries. I think I'm a fairly typical one too, with the sudden explosions of temper and all. Interesting thought.

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 5 years ago

      You know, Linda, I marked this useful! I, am, indeed a bit of a scanner. For most of my life, I've looked around for what fits me perfectly. What I always come back to it writing, but it's SO much fun to consider something new around every corner.

      Wonderful!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Yes, I know what you mean. I think that I've found writing properly now, and that it will be a constant throughout my life. I certainly don't foresee a time when I will not want to do it. But it is fun to think about new projects.

      Thanks Mo.

      Linda.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      I believe the most interesting people in the world never know what they want to be when they grow up ;). I think its kind of sad really that we are led to believe we need to "be" one particular thing and "do that" for life...yawn. I'm with you :) I jump around quite frequently in life and have pursued a variety of interests. I may not seem grounded or settled in life to a lot of people - but I'm happy and that's what matters.

      Great hub I enjoyed reading it as I was hopping about today :)

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Well I'm very happy being a bit of this, and a bit of that :) If you get bored being one thing, I don't see any good reason to keep doing it. There are always ways to learn to be something new - sometimes it just takes a bit of imagination, and a lot of bravery to get on with it.

      Thanks for reading - glad you hopped this way!

      Linda.

    • profile image

      mckbirdbks 5 years ago

      So, you have a plan!!

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Interesting hub, LW ... I'm retired and still scanning but then I have a low boredom threshold. It's good to know what is wrong with me after all these years.

      The one constant has been writing and I have been doing that ... on and off ... since my junior school teacher accused me of 'flashes of brilliance'. That comment has kept me going through the years ... bless her!

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

      Well you know what they say about variety in life? Boredom will never be part of your agenda and you will always have new learning. Well done so far.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      @mck - oh yes, I always have a plan. It changes, daily.

      @Angie. I think a low boredom threshold, as you put it, might one of the key characteristics of a particular species of scanner. I think I have a high boredom threshold, and the things that I can sit doing for hours - proofreading, cross-stitching, knitting, day-dreaming - would have other scanners climbing the walls! For instance, I believe that my brother is a scanner, but that his particular type of scanning can leave him feeling frustrated when he has become bored of one activity but does not know what to replace it with. I have told him to try writing, and I think he might find something wonderful there. I had a similar experience with a teacher, something that stuck with me through the years, but my teacher told me that I would never amount to anything because I could never apply myself - that comment has kept me going through the years, because I wanted to 'show' her! I don't suppose I really have shown her yet, lol, but I will, I will!!

      @chs - thank so much for reading. I think I've just begun to realise, in the last few years as I've come into my thirties, what it is that I want my life to be for, and what I want to do with it. I don't think I'll get it wrong so much any more :) And by that I mean that I'll always know how to fill my days to keep myself happy.

      Linda.

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 5 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Linda, Good hub. I don't think i would regard myself as a true scanner but i know that deep down i would like to try a lot of things and probably have the mistaken feeling that i'd be great at them all!! Anyway happy pootling to you.

      All the best. Michael.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

      So that’s what I am – A Scanner. I am also a typical Aries. I enjoyed the read because I could see myself in every line and because it is an excellent piece of writing. Well done! And oh, being old enough to be your mother, I feel I may encourage you to complete your proofreading course before you do anything else :))) Let me use Saddlerider’s latest applause: “I can’t find enough buttons to vote this hub up!”

    • profile image

      Aka Professor M 5 years ago

      @Lady Wordsmith: In days gone by, your "scanner" would have been a "Renaissance(person) Man". The best possible example in history was "Leonardo Da Vinci". The best Known character in Television would be "MacGyver"!

      You and all these other fine people simply enjoy having diversity in their lives, as do I!(No I'm not an Ares) I believe there will always a certain type of individual that realizes the capabilities that we all possess.

      Those who feel this way are the most interesting and always will be! Usually those of the acting profession are allowed to exercise their diversity in the roles they take! So this piece addresses that area very well, Linda! Good Work, Voted this up and Awesome!

      Regards Mike (Aka Professor M) ;D

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      Heard of tootle, but not pootle but I like it. Stumped my brother with the word twitter (not the online messaging system either) just the other day.

      I'm afraid I'm a tootler, my focus is hard to pin down, but I do keep going back to those things I love - writing and someday acting. I used to want to be an airline pilot and can honestly say that if things had been different in my life, I would have been one by now. And now, seeing how life is so short, I am unsure whether or not I should pursue a professional flying career.

      I do know we should all do what we love the most or when we look back, we will be saying, "shoulda coulda."

      I probably almost sounded like a mom (not your mom because you've been blessed with a scanner mom).

      Fun read!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I flew a plane once, Alexander. It's something I would love to think about learning to do properly, but just for fun, not professionally. I just had the one flying lesson, bought for me as a gift. It was wonderful. My gift the year after was a morning's clay pigeon shooting, and I wanted to learn to shoot properly after that. I tend to love everything I have a go at, which means that I never get around to being proficient at anything! It can be a pain, but I think that eventually I'll have tried enough things that I'll be able to decide which pastimes suit me best, and I'll stick with them. Trouble is, it could take another fifty years.

      Life is too short, you are right - I would say that that means that you should pursue your flying career. But I'm not you! And we can't possibly find the time to do everything, so if you don't fly what will you be concentrating on instead?

      Thanks for reading, and glad to meet you.

      Incidentally, I'm interested to know why you called me a sprite! I did not know that I was a sprite, but I'm very pleased about it.

      Linda.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Martie, I'm so sorry that I've taken so long to reply: I've been awfully busy, with my proofreading! I will finish it, absolutely, and then I can begin my hopefully long career as a person-who-works-from-home. Ooh, I can hardly wait.

      Thank you for your complimentary comment, very kind indeed.

      Linda.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Da Vinci, a scanner. Well, that's very interesting, and very encouraging. I take heart from that, thank you Professor :)

      I like what you said about people in the acting profession, being afforded the opportunity to try out different roles, different skins you might say. That's what I always liked about acting, and it was so refreshing to get to know a new character, and live in their world for a while. Makes me wonder how people who spend years in soap as the same character cope - that would drive me mad! Diversity, change, brilliant.

      Linda.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      A sprite is an elfish being, more like a fairy that hops from one thing to the other, happy with her brief visits at every new place, spreading delight and moving on before she can be pinned down. At least that's how I see her.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Well, that's very useful to me, to know how you see a sprite. The novel I'm working on is called 'Faerie', and it's quite a herculean task for someone who actually knows very little about fairies. I started it thinking that it would be fairly easy to research, but, like anything perhaps, the more I research the less I feel I really know. I've opened up a portal to a whole new world, and have only popped my head into it and seen what's just in one spot. I feel I may have taken on too much!

      Delighted to be a sprite, and am now putting some sprites in my book :)

      L.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      Oh very cool, I can't wait to read it. Is it going on Kindle or will you try to publish with a traditional house?

      Even though I just got to know you, the prospect of you completing a book has me excited for you. There's nothing like finishing one. To answer your next question, yes I have written two full length books but feel they are unfit for publishing. However, my next book will be worthy - don't know if it will be good enough, but I am ready to submit that manuscript (once it's finished). Because I know I'm serious, I am stalling on starting it. You may be a scanner but I am a self sabotager (I don't think that's a word, I just made that up).

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Oh, you'll have to wait quite a long time Alexander! I've been working on it for three years, and it's nowhere near finished :) Every year I say that this will be the year that I really get ahead with it, but events conspire and so on.

      When it is finished I would like to try to sell it to a publishing house, so I will give that a good try first.

      Do you intend to work on those two finished books, or are you going to leave them as they are and move on? Good luck with your latest project. I am a scanner, yes, but I'm a self-sabotager also! I don't know if that is a word, but it works so we'll go with it.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      As long as you get there! The second book I am thinking of editing and putting it out, BUT, it is a Star Trek book - or at least set in the Star Trek universe, which means it will never get published unless they decide to hire me to do ST books. I swore I would never ever do a book in a known universe like Star Trek or Star Wars because of copyright infringement, talk about self sabotage!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I'm a little bit of a Trekkie. I'm no expert, but I do like Star Trek. Are your characters known characters, or have you created new ones and just used the universe according to Star Trek? I can understand the desire to write in that way - sometimes it seems as though the perfect world has already been created by other writers, and it must be very much fun to explore that world in your own way. It must have been quite liberating to write, was it?

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      Yes it was liberating - not that I realized until you just said it, but I had a wealth of information at my fingertips (Star Trek Wiki, MrKlingon.org and so on) and in my own head. In fact, the transporter started the whole thing.

      They are not known characters but at least one of them is very cliche - the emotional Vulcan, I'm not proud of that one, but I think at least it's an original plot. If I ever get around to rewriting it for publishing - most likely it won't be in the Star Trek universe anymore - I'll send you a link if you're interested.

      Funny what you said about liberating, I am working on my next book and it is going so slowly because I am creating the universe and having a hard time with it. Eventually I'll get it :-)

      Whoops, this comment section seems to be all about my book now, sorry. I hope you find the freedom to complete a writing project, it is so satisfying. I do wonder if as writers, we can publish quality content consistently, one of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card, seems to be running out of enthusiasm - lately his books seem more mechanical. Then again I haven't read his Shadow series and that is where his passion may be going. I think he's writing too much and that is a trap we ought to avoid lest we kill the muse!

      I've just killed the muse haven't I?

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Sorry, I took forever to respond to this comment. I do apologise.

      Oh yes, do send me that link. I'd love to give that a read.

      Yes, it can be disappointing when a writer you've enjoyed seems to go off the boil. But it can't be easy to match the success of the first book. Actually, I'd just like to produce one whole book of quality content. And I'd like to write exactly the right amount - which is a whole lot more than I am writing at the moment.

      Not killed the muse at all - comments on my hubs always revive the muse actually, after she's been enjoying long lie-ins and early nights and afternoon siestas and power naps.

      Linda.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      I understand completely the inability to respond right away, in fact, your admission makes me want to respond right away because I know you won't judge me either :-) I have been pretty bad myself lately.

      I hope you will find that perfect mix to write that book. Right now, I've been blessed with a new job and I'll be happy if I can clean up my apartment, much less write my book. In addition to finishing that short story, I have to find a place to publish it since I just unmembered myself from the website I originally intended to put it on. I'll put it on a custom made web page if I have to though!

      Muse ON! right after your siesta of course ;-)

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I hope the apartment cleaning is going well, and that you are finding some time for your writing. My muse woke up - unfortunately though, I fell asleep. We need to synchronise, my muse and I. Maybe I could get her a mobile phone, and we could text or tweet and keep up with each other that way, hmm...

      I'm on holiday with my kids, and my partner - no chance for writing much here. But I did jot down an idea for a story that I found when I was walking about this pretty little quintessentially English town, about a girl who has been trapped in a very tall and narrow house for three hundred years, and has been provided with food and water by means of a hatch in her door by the watch maker and repairer who lives and works in the shop below her rooms. She was watching us from her top window as we passed by and I took a photograph to remind myself to write about her. That's all I've found so far - I seem to always be inspired by the gothic, which is strange, because I never read such stories!

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      I have to answer in the positive - I completely cleaned my bathroom and vacuumed my carpet. One wouldn't think this is a major achievement, but it was a partial return to normalcy for me. I am learning that I just do not, nor ever did have the energy that my peers seem to have. Maybe it's my weight or maybe it's an actual condition - I don't really care to have a name for it, it just is. What matters is that I do my best to do the things I need and want to do right?

      I am glad to hear your writer's mind continues to work, because that probably means you will be forced to complete something even if your muse is at the local bar, getting drunk and you are propping your eyelids with toothpicks just to finish one more sentence.

      I really enjoyed your story - but I don't want to make a single comment about it, because then I'm interfering with the creative process. I did that to my brother recently I think, and I know I can't tell anyone about my ideas until they are done.

      Conveniently, this leaves me a lot of room for procrastination :-D

      Enjoy your vacation, it sounds like a freeing moment for the writer in you.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Bah! Cleaning is just for people who have nothing better to do - that's my philosophy anyway. My house is always a mess (though I've seen much worse!), and that's just the way it is. There are more important things to worry about - as long as my house is clean, I don't really care if there are a few too many of my kids' toys lying around.

      I like that image - I think there's another story there! Waiting up for my muse to come home after a night on the lash with her sisters, and giving her a lecture when she turns up at 4am, slurring her words and throwing up in her hair. That sounds exactly like my muse actually.

      Thanks for not saying anything about my story. I'm putting it on the shelf - it will have to wait. I will brood on it later.

      It is freeing actually, this holiday - I've planned for two weeks of not writing, so when I find odd moments when I can actually write a couple of pages, they're a lovely surprise and I scribble away as quickly as I can.

      Lx.

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 5 years ago from beautiful, rainy, green Portland, Oregon

      Sweet.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 4 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      I can relate to what you have described so well there and have voted up! I have often changed course and I have lots of unfinished projects including three books on the go.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
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      Linda Rawlinson 4 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Scanning is what keeps me going really, I've such a low attention span. I need to take regular breaks, but it's not in me to sit and do nothing in those breaks, I still have to be doing something - what is it they say, a rest is as good as a change? Well, I'm kind of the other way around, a change is as good as a rest for me.

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