No Man is an Island (Still)

do not unplugMorning rambling over coffee and aftershocks, pulling together the thoughts and lines that have been surfacing over the week: What are you plugged into? In other words, what’s your source? Where do you draw your energy?

Whether or not we like to consider (or admit) it, the reality is that we are all plugged in, all the time – to something. Or someone. We are constantly drawing energy from somewhere, just as we are simultaneously exchanging and sharing energy. Energy flows – we are simply conduits. And, if and when we’re inclined, we can focus on what energy we are inhaling or absorbing, and what we are passing along.

Another way to think about this, in more human terms – where do you get your strength? Where do you draw your power? From approval or accolades? Acceptance or admiration? From a person? A position? A title? A memory? A dream? A vision? Health? Youth and firm skin? Access to Botox? By playing a victim? By absorbing the energetic sympathies of anyone willing to pass such along? Or perhaps the opposite – playing the all-mighty, all-knowing? Playing the leader, whether or not the shoe fits? Hmmm… how about the number of likes or friends on your Facebook page? The number of people on your mailing list? (Not that there’s anything wrong with mailing lists, whatsoever – but if your subscriptions suddenly dropped to zero – how would that feel?)

Often we draw our strength from what we identify with. Sometimes we draw it from that which we say is NOT us – the things we don’t identify with. From our labels. Or from our non-labels. Either way, it is a drawing. We may pride ourselves on being our own (wo)men, un-owned, no strings, no labels, no emotions, above the fray, Pinocchio and his “no strings to hold [him] down, to make [him] smile, to make [him] frown” – but is that really true? In the web of life, we ALL have strings. The question is – what are they attached to?

(And if you’ll pardon me for going there – I can’t resist – in today’s terminology, Pinocchio’s quest to be a no-stringed real boy might qualify him as a free radical. You know, those molecules that have been discovered to cause things like aging and cancer. After all, most free radicals are stable only in a vacuum state.)

Don’t think any of this applies to you? Think again. Your very existence depends on this dynamic exchange, down to the basic (not to mention vital) act of breathing. As much as our tenderized psyches might like to be islands, it simply isn’t possible. We are part and parcel of the ecosystems around us. I cannot exist without breathing. Breathing requires an ongoing, steady supply and production of oxygen. Where does that come from? Start by thanking the trees in your front yard. And what do they need? They need YOUR exhale.

Allow me to circle back for a moment: If we have taken pride in our non-labeled status, our ability to “resist” – do we realize that that can also be a temporary status? What if life were to throw you a sudden curve ball and all of a sudden you were in a position in which you HAD to take on a label, perhaps one which you had previous despised or denigrated? In which No-Labels (itself a label) was no longer an option, no longer on the table of choices? Where would you draw your strength from then? What if, all of a sudden, heaven forbid, you found yourself in a situation in which you actually (**shudder**) NEEDED someone?

Returning to breathing: This idea brings up a second aspect – everything we depend on. Everything we take for granted, perhaps without even considering that our very existence depends on this, that, or the other. Again, look to the body. How many autonomic processes do we rely on, do we *depend* on, on a daily basis? I can’t even swallow my food on my own accord. I may start the process, gaily chomping along on my breakfast, but once that food passes my throat, the smooth muscles of my esophagus have to take over the process, to convey that tasty morsel along its way. I don’t consciously control that. I can’t control that. And I do DEPEND on it in order to survive.

These are the kinds of things we don’t think about until they feel at risk. Whether it’s our body, our health, our water, our relationships, our mental or emotional well-being. These are the kinds of things we often take for granted, and may intentionally or unintentionally end up harming those around us by this taking-of-grantedness, or by, in all frankness, using those around us to get our energetic fix.

The truth is, as 3D humans we will always have needs. At our present evolutionary stage, it is impossible not to. To think we can bypass this in our current forms, allow me to refer back to the process of breathing and the necessity of oxygen. As one friend commented recently, “I am not above being human.” (Painful as that may be to admit. J)

Like it or not, every minute of every day, in some form or another, we are doing a dance of energetic exchange. There is no such thing as “not needing,” although of course how that takes shape can vary. As long as you and I are in physical form on this planet, every cell of our bodies will be constantly giving, receiving, exchanging, dare I say perhaps even stealing, energy from all that is around us. In the terminology of astrophysics, “In the quantum world, this energy boost is often thought of as taking a step up an ‘energy ladder’.”

That being the case, the question remains: Now what? How and where do we fulfill our needs? Long ago, Gran had an opinion about this. She said she’d been taught it herself, found it worthy, and passed it along to any who cared to ask. The idea of laying up our treasures within – something she highly recommended to me. And while we were in there, to make sure we were plugged in on that level, drawing deeply from a life-giving stream of such vastness we cannot begin to comprehend it. Plugged in to the ultimate Source or field of energy, as we understand it, whatever that may be for you, for me – rather than plugging into the temporal, short-lived expressions of energy around us, in which case, we may end up doing more harm than good in the long and short run. And for those needs that must be met externally – like that good ol’ oxygen – do we seek to give as much as we receive, contributing to or taking from a state of balance?

Certainly we can seek a state of healthy interdependence with all around us – the people, the places, the settings, the situations. Beyond that, we may want to consider what we’re plugged into, and why. What are we getting out of a situation? What are the intentions behind our every action? Are we aware of them, or trying to ignore them? What is life reflecting back to show us those things we may prefer not to see about ourselves, whether helpful or unhelpful?

So here’s a thought: What would you do, where would you be, if tomorrow, everything and everyone you identified yourself as, for or against, was gone? What if everything you drew your strength from, or at least had in the past, was gone? Where would you be? Where would you find yourself? Because let’s face it – life has a way of doing that, especially when we reach a point of extreme hubris, convincing ourselves and anyone who will listen that we are above it all. That’s when life will remind us that we DO need these things. That we ARE dependent on certain things – all the time, every second of every day. Period.

But what we are dependent on is not necessarily what we currently think. All these temporary things around us – we aren’t really dependent on them. Not to say it wouldn’t be painful to lose them. But you know what? Life goes on regardless.

These are the kinds of situations in which we learn our true strengths, we learn the true nature of the things from which we have been drawing, and we also are faced with the stark reality that we WERE drawing strength from these people/places/things/beliefs/practices/behaviors, whether or not we wanted to see this.

And while we’re considering that, we can remember this: Just as we are receiving, we are giving. Constantly. So the second part of this question, beyond what you’re plugged in to, is, to what are you GIVING your energy? To whom? Where? How? In what condition? And perhaps most importantly to consider – why? And as always, the question – are we doing this consciously or unconsciously? Reactively or with intention? If I am giving you power, in any way, shape or form, for the positive or the negative, perhaps through love, perhaps through blame, what am I getting from this exchange? Power over? Power under? Perhaps a sense of security? So many possibilities exist, and it behooves us to look at each interchange in our lives, to see what is really happening, and whether or not that is something we want to continue in its current form.

Whatever we are exchanging, each interaction carries one gift for certain: the gift of change, in whatever way that takes shape. This constant giving and receiving. Gran said it, as well as many other grandmothers – and many other teachers. We are not islands. And every time I start to think I might be able to swing that concept, life steps in to remind me otherwise. Just like every time I start to plug in to a temporal source of power – life steps in to remind me, “Hold it right there. You know better!”

The way we make these choices, whether intentionally or “by accident” (which really isn’t), and the way we live with the consequences of those choices, will shape our existence, the days of our lives. It’s simply part and parcel of being a member of our local ecosystem, and this is just the way life works. Don’t like what we’re receiving? Don’t like where our energy is going? Maybe we need to check both ends of our little section of the pipeline. What are we plugged into, and where are we flowing?

Just a few thoughts for a Saturday morning. Only you can answer these questions for yourself. And yes, I’ll be doing my best to keep answering them for myself, as well, living into the answers, and sometimes, simply living into the questions.

Namaste. _/\_

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.
– John Donne (1572-1631)

(C) 2016 Mary Batson,
All rights reserved, including the ones I take for granted.


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