Islands

When you are young and free of care, sometimes you see something especially shiny. You stop and pick it up, and look at it, and play with it. Usually, the shine goes away and you get bored with it. Sooner or later, you lose the shiny thing and usually don’t even care. Once in a great while, you find something good enough to keep, and so you do. Life progresses quite nicely in that fashion until you begin to understand concepts such as responsibility, and ethics, and compassion (that is, if you ever do.)

These concepts are good things, but they tend to gum up the works. Although you may continue to pick up shiny things, and even keep a few of them, it does not happen nearly so often. Instead, you tend to notice things that are broken. So you pick up those things and try to fix them, and to make them shiny. That sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.

Occasionally, you will run across a broken part of the society in which you exist, and you will work to fix that. That almost never occurs, at least to the extent that you will see the change that you believe to be best for society. That, of course, should not stop you from trying. A lot of things are so big, and so broken, that it takes a very long time and a lot of people to fix them.

If your tendencies are social at all, you will often find a broken person, and you will try to make them shiny, too. This happens especially if you feel you have a debt to pay, or if you believe in paying it forward. The problem is, most people don’t really want to be fixed, no matter what they say. The other problem is that unless you really know how to fix people, you won’t. The best you can hope for is an occasional success.

If you’re especially lucky, you may run across interesting and attractive people that are not very broken at all, although they may have a lot of questions, just like you do. Those people can be like magnets. One of the hardest parts of all is understanding that these people are on their own journey. You may get to walk alongside them for a while, but that is as good as it is going to get. They are as intent on their journey as you are on yours.

Sometimes all those things and people and causes that you have picked up get heavy. You want to just put them down, and start over. Sometimes you can do that, and sometimes you can’t. It would be especially good to find a like mind to walk with for a personal forever and share part of the load. In my experience, that doesn’t happen. With a new load, or an old load, you’re on your own. That is as good as it is going to get.

John Donne was wrong, in the end. Some people are islands, not because they want to be, but because it’s so hard to find someone that is going where you are going, at the same time you’re going there. You’re very lucky if you ever bump into someone like that. I’ve been lucky a couple of times, but just on the destination and not on the timing. That’s life, and that’s often as good as it’s going to get.

Islands are, by their nature, lonely places, and the walk seems longer when you’re alone. The periods just after the close brushes with people going to the same place, but at different times, are the hardest times to be alone. The island seems very small and the ocean seems very large. It probably is not good to stop, though. You just have to keep traveling. :)


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