And the insufficiency of self-sufficiency
Like a tide going out, it seems to me that there is a new spirit of drawing away in the world that we live in. I see it in the increasingly unpleasant atmosphere post Brexit with the talk of going it alone; ‘listing foreign workers”; “taking control”. I see it within communities as people mark out others as other. And I see sometimes in individuals a kind of fearful need for autonomy not arising so much from an active desire for freedom but a wariness about surrender, a sense of something to be lost which shapes their relationship with work and with others.
It saddens me. To me it seems it is all based upon a rather skewed way of seeing how relationships can work. Underpinning it all there seems to be confusion between independence and self-sufficiency or isolationism. I can’t help feeling that much of the time isolationism and self-sufficiency is really a defensive place that assumes that the more removed I am from others, the less I can be hurt or damaged or constrained by them. There is an inherent be-grudgingness in it too, as if anything I give away lessens me and anything I get given creates unpleasant obligation. Isolationism and self-sufficiency is the child of hurt or fear and is risk averse.
Real independence is a much stronger place. It is born of hope and optimism and embraces the ambiguity of risk. It is a belief in the power and authority of the self and the ability of the self to always take choices. But even more it is a faith in the notion of Karma that how you are in the world shapes what you get, And in this respect, the choices I make are always mine and that in the relationships I have with others I operate fundamentally as a free spirit.
In a free-spirited relationship choices are rarely about curtailment and compromise they are about exploration and discovery. And as a free-spirit I celebrate the fact that I will sometimes evolve and change but also that I will not forget who I am and what I value. In the alchemy of great relationships these may be the very things that create the magic. So yes I may sometimes put some of my own declared positions aside, but not who I am. This way we do not to create some sort of fudged averaged and mean settlement but in pursue something bigger, better, more joyful for me as well as everyone else - which in the end enhances who I am as an individual.
Not all relationships can be like this but many would be better if they were. When I was writing my book A Little Nostalgia for Freedom one of the chapters which I became most proud and fond of, was one of the final ones titled. “Travelling with Companions” Written after an intensive period of travelling alone it expresses as well as I possibly can how important and natural companions are to us if we are to engage and thrive in the human world in which our evolutionary psychology still runs deep. I see now very clearly the distinction between the special relationship we have with those we would call companions as opposed to the limiting and impoverishment we can expect from self-sufficient acquaintances.
click here - for a copy of the Travelling with Companions chapter