No man is an island or is s/he?

9 Apr
A weekly newsletter I receive opened with the following quote today:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the mainJohn Donne 1572-1631.
The writer, John Chappelear, continued “To me, Donne’s well-remembered phrase means I am but a part of the greater whole. It reminds me, I do not live alone, I do not work alone and I do not succeed alone.”
I thought about this analogy in the context of how life literally ebbs and flows, is constantly changing, and moves us between states (physically, emotionally, and mentally) all the time.
So much of life is an “inside job” based on what we feel, think, perceive, and see through our six senses (intuition being the sixth).  If we are fortunate enough to have built up a teflon exterior we can pretty much sail through life unscathed regardless of any storms or obstacles that land in our way, or how others treat us.
Island Living can be a Luxury…
The concept of “no man is an island” being a negative construct is an interesting one.  I meet more and more people who may not be literal islands, but their life is one of remoteness – and most of them, like me, are in mid-life.
If we take the analogy one step further, earth is made up of seven continents (is that right?, my geography classes were long ago so I could be wrong) and thousands of islands.  While most people live on the main continents and many move freely between them, there are thousands (maybe even millions) who live on islands – some in very secluded areas, who survive, thrive, and are valuable contributors to the world.
Sometimes I feel like I am one of them, partly by choice, partly by circumstance.  Read on…
Just as life relocates us across continents (states of being – successful, in transition, moving forward or back, happy/sad/grieving/excited/etc.), I believe it sometimes also can move us to a remote island where we are the sole occupant, just to see if we can handle being alone.
The Treadmill can be Temporary
After a lifetime spent figuratively living on a crowded continent where alone time was rare (growing up with four siblings, then raising a young family, supporting a husband who was constantly in school, supporting siblings and parents who needed emotional support, working full-time, and meeting the needs of friends), I find that I am now living on a remote island – and I am getting used to it.
I am not sure if I want to be on this island forever, but I am finding that “island living” is not as bad as city dwellers might think.
Even though I work alone and spend a lot of time alone (my children are now grown, I am divorced, and I will no longer tolerate energy vampires as friends), it is high quality time in the company of the Royal We (me, myself and I).  While it can be isolating, and even lonely at times, it is also refreshing.  I never had the luxury of time in the past to really get to know the Royal We, and I have to tell you, I really am learning to love their company!
Contact with the “mainland”
Through the internet, I stay in contact with a global community of friends (who have never lived in the same country as me), and do most of my client work remotely.  Sometimes I even miss the energy vampires and toxic friends who treated me poorly in the past (and yes, I tolerated it), but it is getting easier and easier when I can look out my window (literally) and see dolphins frolicking in the bay outside.
Life is never fair, never perfect, never exactly as we would plan for ourselves, but” man” can be an island in and of himself at times, for a duration.  That does not have to be “bad”.
I believe if we changed our collective attitude about independence and self-reliance, we might become a more tolerant society.  If
more people took time to disconnect, withdraw, take a retreat from life to get to know the real, wonderful s/he, we would collectively discover that the “Royal We” are pretty darn good just the way we are.
What do you think?
Have a great week!

2 Responses to “No man is an island or is s/he?”

  1. Steve Chizar Monday, April 9, 2012 at 11:37 am #

    I think we all need to go to an island at times just to re-energize and remember exactly who we are. society is a sum of all its parts and those parts need to be redefined to see if tthere is a better fit. I do have kids at home yet and a wife who will be retiring next year and it kind of scares me that I wil not have my “island time” as much. Besides, how do you know you really need something if it is always within your grasp? A person needs to learn to appreciate all that they have and not take anything for granted.

    • Carol Dekkers Monday, April 9, 2012 at 11:56 am #


      I agree with you. I remember when I got divorced 6 years ago and my ex-husband told me that it would be so sad and that there is no way that I would survive being alone (i.e., without him) – and it made me wonder because I had never been on my own (too early married.)

      It is great to find out that the best friends I could ever hope for, who accept me in all my warts and greatness just as I am, were only as far as my nose. The Royal We will never ditch me, will never talk behind my back, will never cheat on me, and will love me unconditionally until the day I die. Who could ever be lonely with friends like this!

      Wishing you well on of off of your island adventures!

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