Here in the west, over the years we’ve come to prize independence above almost everything else. We admire those whose success seems built solely on their own ingenuity and wit. We idolize those who have “pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps,” but we overlook the fact that those boots were stitched and glued by other humans. (Perhaps not surprisingly, this expression was originally intended to mean something laughably far-fetched or impossible. Picture a person trying to pull her/himself up by the bootstraps. It simply can’t be done.)
So many of us feel lost and alone, even though we may be surrounded by others. We drag ourselves out of bed in the morning and drive the long road to work where we sit at our desk and stare into a computer screen for eight hours. Then, we drive the same busy, lonely road back. Maybe we pull our car into a drive through along the way. When we hand our money to the freckled boy behind the window, we hardly glance at him. We come home to our televisions. We pay our bills. We spend our weekends anonymously shopping for toilet paper and curtains. We don’t talk to our neighbors. We forget to call the people we love most. And we wake up on Monday to do it all again.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can create the world we want simply by choosing to.
“Nothing – not low education, not full-time work, not long commutes in urban agglomerations, not poverty or financial distress – is more broadly associated with civic disengagement and social disconnection than is dependance on television for entertainment.” ~Robert D. Putnam
Our communities are desperately fragmented. So often, even when we’re surrounded by others, by friends and co-workers, by family and loved ones, we perceive ourselves as very alone. Because of this, we’ve begun to feel more and more alienated in the world. Even when we’re surrounded by so many other humans with the same fears and doubts, the same joys and hopes that we have, we keep to ourselves. We never discover that others are much like we are.
Giving of ourselves allows us to feel genuinely needed and inspires us to see ourselves as a part of something bigger, integrally connected to those around us.
So often in the mundane busyness and minutia of day-to-day life, we get caught up, swept away by what seems important at the moment, but is really just keeping us from living a truly meaningful and joyful life. We have trouble seeing beyond the bills, the commute, the packed schedules, the morning rush…. Living simply stands in eloquent contrast.