Often, I hear someone say, “I did this on my own,” or “He’s a self-made man”. My first impulse, is “Bravo!”, but the second and stronger one is, “Come on now, let’s think this through.”
I doubt that anyone does anything totally on their own, just as there may not be any true original thought or idea. We need each other. We are intradependent. Each step we take, we take with the help or support of another, some way, somehow. No one does it completely alone. We may “pull ourselves up by the bootstraps”, but we couldn’t have done it without the solid earth beneath our feet. No man is an island, as the saying goes. The help we benefit from may be subtle, may never be recognized. But each turn we take has been influenced by someone or something, some event in our lives. If not for another person saying that one little thing, driving at 25 mph, when we wanted to go 50 mph so slowed us down and thus we avoided that accident, if not for another person asking us for a little favor that took us out of our planned path for the day, we would not be who or where or what we are today. In fact, we may not even be here today.
I’m certainly not saying that desire, passion, determination, drive, initiative, creativity and action have nothing to do with what we’ve achieved. Those things are all necessary and important. What I’m saying is that we couldn’t and didn’t and won’t ever do it alone. That dynamic flows in both directions. Something we’ve done or said to someone at some point in time, has undoubtedly changed a person’s entire life. Usually, we never even know we’ve had anything to do with that person’s life. But we’ve given, without knowing that we’ve given anything at all. A simple smile can change a person’s whole day. A curt, hasty, impatient remark can be devastating.
So it is with writing. I find myself thinking, I use my creativity to write. Maybe I initiate my writing. Maybe I . . I . . . I . . . The truth is, although I must take the initiative to tap my creativity, then follow through by making the effort to actually write, I haven’t done it and never do it, alone. I find the beauty and creativity in those around me, I mine my curiosity about what made that person who they are, how that tree came to grow exactly where it grew, why that flower is growing up through the sidewalk crack, and not in my garden. And then I take in what all that creation offers, all of those observations and experiences, and maybe I write. But I don’t do it alone. It’s already been done, waiting for someone to notice, waiting for someone to transform it into words. Such is all creativity.
So Bravo! to achievement, initiative, passion and drive. But, can we agree: We need one another, and none of us does this alone.
©Janet Mitchell, October 2011