Connection is the Antidote
In the days of more and more isolation, we are still faced with consistent, contradicting messaging on what is needed for humans to successfully grow, become, and engage in relationships in a wholesome and honoring way. Some say that in order for humans to be successful in relationships, they need to learn how to be alone.
While I understand the sentiment, it's a difficult one for me to agree with in the materialist and anthropocentric sense of the word. Primarily because I lived the first part of my life in constant isolation, disconnected. As a child, although I was surrounded by family members (being one of six kids in a large family of eight), I did not experience safety in those relationships and therefore was left with a constant feeling of isolation and aloneness. I got used to being alone and struggled to interact with others and form healthy bonds. As a result I often felt I was on the outside looking in. I felt like a ghost, walking through the world in a sort of liminal space and purgatory of "no life". It wasn't until I learned—through modeling, connecting, and relating—how to engage in healthy relational dynamics that things shifted for me. Before that I had bought into the hype of independence and isolation in the form of "learning to be alone".
After suffering the ill effects of modern, materialist isolation, I strongly feel that connection is the true antidote to our materialist suffering, not more aloneness. I believe our ability to truly connect to another being is what allows love to pour forth and be known, realized, and experienced. I believe that it is specifically an animistic connection that facilitates this rejuvenation of love's nectar, most especially when the animistic view is applied toward human relationships.
The Need for The Other
Even in the anthropocentric view of the world, I believe it is connection, good relational modeling, supportive community, and the action of relating that results in good relationships. Being alone and isolated is crippling to the heart and soul and results in depressed and unhappy humans.
Scientists have studied the human mind and found that people who live in isolation have differently wired brains than those who don't. The study found that people who live in isolation have poorer cognition and greater risk of developing dementia.
We in the West have had the concept of aloneness shoveled down or throats our entire lives. This has escalated with our use of technology. Yet what a grand lie it is. In societies with healthy attachment parenting, children and families are raised together, intermingling. They sleep together, cook together, gather food together, eat together. There is a deep intimacy forged in the "togetherness" and the community that promotes wellbeing and something of great health-value.
We must see the fundamental truth that relating cannot be achieved alone. We can learn from our Animal Kin just how devastating aloneness is to the development of mammals. To know this, we can merely look at the life of a kitten separated from its mother too early. Without the mother teaching a kitten how to be a cat—how to hunt, climb trees, and protect itself—the kitten will grow up deficient in its animal-cat knowing. Likewise, children raised in abusive and isolating environments are likely to grow up relationally challenged and struggle with mental illness and addiction. We see this truth echoed in the lives of too many addicts: a common thread is a feeling of crippling loneliness, stress, and the absence of supportive, wholesome community and bonding activities. And let's not forget the plight of mothers without a support system of women. Many mothers suffer the ill effects of going at it alone while struggling to raise their children in isolation.
Relating is how we learn how to relate, not aloneness and isolation.
Opening the Veil
Even in the context of knowing ourself, it is not aloneness that cultivates self knowing, but rather connection and relating to one's self.
I do acknowledge that being alone in the materialist and anthropocentric sense of the word (isolating one's self from other people), can be a doorway to this realization. But I challenge others to see that this aloneness is not what it seems. When all other human company has left us, what is left is, at first, the dark terror of no other. But, given the right environment, slowly another world reveals itself. A world that is teeming with life and, actually, IS LIFE. And then one realizes that there is no alone. There is only connection and alone is a state of materialist imprisoned consciousness--a consciousness taught and colonized by the idea of anthropocentricity and isolation without humans.
Rather than saying "be alone", promoting isolation, why are we not instead saying "be together with yourself and connect to Life"? I find this line of guidance promotes internal wholeness vs loneliness.
The Myth of Isolation
And this leads me to why isolation is a myth, one we have been duped into believing with all of our materialist, anthropocentric hearts.
When we really truly think about it, are we ever actually alone? Is it really possible to be truly isolated? My hypothesis is that in a world that is anthropocentric, humans are duped into believing the myth of isolation—that is that without human interaction, they are alone. I argue that in an animistic world view, isolation can never truly exist because we humans would be in natural communication and connection with everything that exists always. Loneliness can't be an issue when we see the intelligence of, and communicate with, all living entities, rather than only humans. But because in the first world we are largely socialized into an anthropocentric-values, we see being away from other humans as being alone. In this value system, loneliness turns to isolation when we experience the worst effects of human rejection and separation.
But in an animistic-values based world, this is not the case. Because we would, from the time we slipped out our mother's womb, be socialized in a Universe that is alive, connective, and communicative. Our mothers' nervous systems would be attuned to an "other world" that we would be invited into and gain experience engaging with. Our playmates would be more than other children: it would be the elements, the sky, the trees, the blades of grass. It would be animals and insects, fungi, and microorganisms. We would be wrapped in a womb of connection and aliveness, intelligence, persona, and Divine powers that would always be with us, and, with whom we could always communicate.
Invitation to Contemplate: Are we ever really alone?
If we listen more closely, notice more subtly, we will find we are communing with everything in our environment always: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat—even where we sit our bottoms. The stones, the rivers, the rain, the clouds are all alive. We are literally made of billions of cells and are home to a vast array of micro organisms, existing with us in symbiosis.
Everything is alive and conscious and communing. The land we dwell on is inhabited by ancestors and the land itself has a Spirit.
If I sit long enough and allow my consciousness to break through the imprisoned state of materialism, I will slowly experience it and realize it:
I am never alone. I am always surrounded by beings who love me; who are here with me, aiding me, relating with me, existing in sacred reciprocity and symbiosis with me.
That includes my human relations: my husband, my partner, my children, my family and friends. They are actually always with me, even when we are apart. In my experience, love is not dependent on being alone but on being connected, deeply intimately so, to everything in existence. That is how love is realized; by knowing intimacy with the other as being deeply connected all the way to the Source that birthed us. And knowing this love exists within and as us.
We can come to know that, through our wholesome Relations, we are all existing in the Web of Life. There is simply no such thing as being alone, but it is possible to feel lonely when we are not able to see and experience the connection inherent in us. Maybe that takes isolation to realize, but I don't think so. Through my life of isolation, I have found that by connecting to All My Relations (all in The Web of Life) and celebrating the togetherness of my most precious relationships, I have received the most nourishment, the best success within those relationships, and the realization of the Web of Life. My Relations and my *relating* is what taught me what love is; how to access it and how to love others.
An Animalistic View of Interconnectedness Enhances our Human Interactions.
I have found that going outside of the human sphere and seeking understanding and learning from Other Kin, our Relations that are not embodied humans, has helped teach me the modeling that I missed as a child. I have been shown tremendous amounts of love and connection in these Relations. And by this connection, I have brought back to my human relationships more compassion, insight, clarity, kindness, and honoring.
For example, my relationship and communications with my timid cat has taught me how to be more kind and gentle and how to treat him and other humans based on their unique disposition. My communications and engagement with water has taught me the value of water and its revealed medicine: going with the flow, that water is a carrier and nourisher of Life, and that pure water is incredibly precious and rare. This has shown me that water is animating my loved ones: flowing through them and nourishing them. When I love and honor them, I am also loving and honoring water.
These Relations teach me how to be in symbiosis with The Web of Life. They open me, nourish me, and connect me. They are the antidote of materialist isolation. They are the bridge to Spirit. Isolation and aloneness is not the answer; connection is.