As a “single mom” for most of my adult life, I often felt proud of my self-sufficiency. There was a sense of showing responsibility in being able to take care of my child and myself and pulling my own weight in society and in the world. However, this often led me to feel isolated and to believe that this was a “mean world” out there. Fortunately, life started pointing to the fact that I needed at times to rely on others. There were first the easy lessons: scheduling conflicts, occasional illnesses; then came the harder lessons: a major accident, losing mobility and independence. This is when I learned to let go of this belief that I had to fend for myself and be able to do it all by myself, finally accepting the help of others.
Human beings are not meant to live in isolation. Nations always pay a heavy price for isolationist policies. This is a sure way to miss an opportunity to practice acceptance and humility. By contrast, trying to escape relations of dependency, we actually generate more of a sense of uselessness and dependency. Developing relations is often the way we go about getting out of isolation. However, we have all experienced how one may feel very isolated, even surrounded by people with whom we have developed relationships. What we are seeking is genuine connection, where we expect to both give and receive, thereby exposing ourselves to a level of vulnerability and opening up to the possibility of being helped. This is a two-way street based on genuine connection without an agenda that enables us to be wiser in our service of others.
The numerous environmental catastrophes in the world today are providing ample opportunities to learn to give and receive, to change roles, and to become wiser in our service of others. It takes wisdom and strength to surrender to your own helplessness. It also brings a deeper understanding of the human experience to accept your limitations to give or to receive. The world needs greater connectivity to help us build the compassion it takes to truly rely on each other.