As soon as we separate ourselves from others, others separate themselves from us.
This was just one of the thoughts or realizations I had one cold day this past January as I house-sat for a friend in Des Moines, Iowa. I had been watching a few videos on minimalism prior to sitting down to write, when an interview with researcher and storyteller Brené Brown started to play. Before that minute, I had never heard of her. However, as she began to talk about vulnerability and belonging, my curiosity piqued. It was, after all, the exact subject I was writing about in the moment and a subject of continued interest.
And so, as I listened to Brown talk that day, my brain went to work. Overall, I found her to be a wonderful on-screen presence with a remarkable tool-kit for opening up and connecting to others. However, even the best of us are still growing and learning and Brown, herself, expressed that she is not immune to bouts of loneliness and balancing that with the need for personal space and time to recharge. In fact, as she encountered a difficult question at one point and attempted to work through it in her mind, I found myself formulating my own perspective and resolution. During the specific part of the interview, she spoke of belonging to herself and the importance of that….as opposed to belonging to/with others. It even seemed, quite surprisingly, that she was separating herself from others and eliminating any notion that we belong anywhere at all except to ourselves. More specifically, this was a woman speaking about the importance of belonging, yet at the same time admitting that she (herself) had trouble feeling like she belonged. So where did that lead me?
“As soon as we separate ourselves from others, others separate themselves from us.”
Not to dismiss anything that Brown shared and offered during that interview, but the reality as I came to see it that day is that we quite possibly belong to BOTH ourselves and the world (or universe)….if we can actually belong to anyone at all. My personal way of looking at this is that the world/universe gives us or births us….and will take us back eventually. We are, in a sense, on loan. And this vulnerability….opening ourselves up to it…allows us to experience intimacy and true connection. By letting go of the need to be somebody….or see ourselves in a certain way….we become somebody. So many of us are preoccupied with the idea of becoming immortal that we don’t actually become a part of the process and it’s in the process that we find true belonging. Living…..dying…..along with the plants and other animals we share in existence with….this is what we should be connecting with.
A recent documentary, titled “My Octopus Teacher,” comes to mind. It’s about a man who befriends an octopus, but it’s also much more than that. It explores man’s disconnect from nature and how, by reconnecting with nature, we can heal our disconnect from those of the human species, as well. This is something I have personally begun to see and feel in my own day to day life. When we connect with all life and the universe at large, we begin to see ourselves everywhere and in everyone. In effect, we ARE everyone….and we’re no one in particular. This is what happens when we let go of the need to be somebody. We become a part of something else. We belong, as it turns out, to something else.
What a truly beautiful and amazing thought…..