No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main – John 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.”
A weekly newsletter I receive opened with the following quote today:
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!