We Are Social Beings

There’s a lot of talk these days about self-love, about people seeking to stand on their own and be alone and not need others, and while I’m a firm believer that you don’t need to be dating someone or be married to find happiness, I think this idea of self-satisfaction is weak, and prays on the lonely to keep them that way, or to inspire them to spend money on themselves to be happy. Humans are social beings. Even the most introverted ones of us at times seek the company of others, even if it’s sitting alone in a busy restaurant. The mere proximity to other humans allows us to resonate with other heartbeats, to feel warmth and compassion of others.

In opposition, the modern age has put us at cubicles in front of screens, and while I don’t believe social media and computers has made us as irreconcilably cut off from human-to-human interaction, I think it’s more so the act of where and why we are on our screens that severs us from connection. Of course we can be content alone. We can live alone and survive alone, but no one wants to. Whether this refers to family members, friends, roommates, or significant others, we as humans actually require human interaction to feel fulfilled. Some find it in unhealthy ways, such as sleeping around in hopes that this fosters connection, when it often leads to psychological scars and battles with trust. Others gamble, drink, do drugs, or take up cigarettes in order to not feel left out. Others find ways that are almost too healthy- those people that embrace yoga, touch dance, and are often out and about without ever taking time to themselves.

But we are not lone beings. We are not independent. Codependence in inherent in us; it’s how we utilize that nature that can be detrimental. Relying on someone to make you happy is not healthy, but we tend to be happier when we’re with people we can rely on. Cultivating strong relationships with friends and lovers is powerful. Americans have this dumb notion that strength is found in being closed off, in fighting your own battles, but true strength is found in vulnerability. When we trust others we can be vulnerable with them, and that is a strong way to be.

Take the wind: it blows through what it can, around what it can’t go through, over, under, and any way that it can, with the ability to break through, it tends to idly meander around obstacles. This is also true of a river. A river is fierce, but it also likes to go over boulders instead of trying to push them. And if we keep with that metaphor, think of how strong and magnificent the ocean is, but it would be nothing without the streams and rivers flowing into it. In the same way, we are stronger when we have multiple rivers of people flowing into us; it keeps us from being stagnant. I can speak to this wholeheartedly because I’ve been in love and been dependent on that person, which is to say that I think about them all the time, they brighten my soul when I think about them, they are there to shower me with love and kisses and thoughts and feelings, and we have a great time together, whether it’s a romantic date or grocery shopping. I get home depending on them to be there so that we can make dinner together.

When I live alone I have to do all the chores myself, and if I have a bad day I have to grind through it on my own. When I’ve lived with my girlfriend, or previously with good roommates that were friends, we could share the burden of our lives, and that’s what humans are meant to do. Have you ever noticed how it’s often easier to solve someone else’s problem than it is to solve your own? Do you ever find yourself giving love advice to a friend that takes your word as wisdom, while you have been suffering your own romance troubles for weeks? This is because we are supposed to use one another. We aren’t all good at everything. Some of us will never be good at finances, so how wonderful to rely on a friend who is. There’s a reason society shows up in books and movies as having a butcher, baker, banker, doctor, and medicine man. We all have talents and roles and together we eat, stay healthy, sleep, have homes, and deliver the mail. Has I at times known too strong a dependence on others? Absolutely, although there is a difference between learning to be alone and being lonely.

Learning to be your own guide is a wonderful idea; however, the notion of each making their way, rising to the top of business, buying a home and new cars every three years is antiquated, and really only applicable to the late 1970’s up until the 1990’s. That was a bizarre 30 years where industry boomed because consumerism was on the rise, and that was really possible only because TV, radio, and film was getting more exposure.

Then came the internet, which made everyone think that it would take consumerism to a new level, but instead the backfire was illegal downloading, filesharing, (and blogs offering free advice). The internet upset the 30-year crest of materialism, which was an offshoot of the Baby Boomer generation getting older and their children outnumbering the jobs. ATMs took over for bank tellers and movie stores closed in exchange for Redbox. The Baby Boomers were well-educated and had years of experience, and so they were applying for the same jobs as their children, and there were fewer jobs to be had, so the Recession came from one basic problem: Too many people in a capitalist society.

I had a strange thought the other day: there’s no reason why jobs exist today. There was a time when it was necessary, I believe; however now we could be living off of solar, wind, and hyrdo electricity. We could be living off of small-scale farming. We could be sharing information for free. If that were the case, guess what? We’d still have butchers, bakers, doctors and lawyers because human beings are primed with these hobbies, passions, skills, and desires. Do you know how hard I work on things I love to do? My energy for them is endless, but to make it to work by 9 to punch in? That’s difficult.

Humans are primed to become a society. They are primed to do various roles and work together. That’s why families occur naturally. Mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons happen. Each plays a role, and we’d do better at being families if we relied on one another more. But the 70’s started a different trend, which was like an adult bird pushing their chick out of the nest so it would learn to fly. We started a trend where we sent children off to college and then pushed them out of the nest. This was fine for a while because there was plenty of sky for the birds to fly around in, but now it’s crowded and the sky is murky, and birds are dropping from the sky at alarming rates. I’m seeing a slow shift to the older ways, with more kids coming home after college. They aren’t staying at jobs they hate. They’re quitting and moving on. They are couch surfing. They are traveling. This is codependence at its finest because it’s helping people become better people.

I don’t want people doing a job that isn’t their passion, hobby, or natural born talent. Why do we think that people are naturally born to be actors, singers, or pianists, but not custodians or landscapers? Some people are very good at cleaning and like to do it. We should celebrate everybody’s talents and joys, just as we do when they are young and they come to us with weird ideas that we support because they’re young and being silly? Why can’t we be silly forever? Silliness is amazing. I’m silly when I’m crazy in love. I’m silly when I’m goofing off with friends. I’m silly when I play with my niece and nephew, and those are the times I’m open, vulnerable, and overflowing with potential.

But being silly alone isn’t any fun. Alone is for meditation, contemplation, development, and creating. Imagine a circus with only one clown. There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child, but it also works the other way. It takes a child to raise a village sometimes.

So here’s my proclamation: Be dependent, but also be dependable. We have all been up and down, in the money and broke. When you have a house with an extra room, share with someone that needs a place to be because you never know when you’ll next be out on your luck and you’ll need a room. If you’re good to people when you have food to share, when your belly is empty, someone will share with you. It’s basic karma. When someone offers you love, accept it.



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