One of my findings of the past years is how highly individualists we westerners are. Maybe, not everyone of us, and of course, it depends on our cultural background, the societies we’ve grown up in, on our families, etc.
There are societies that encourage more individuality and others, which are a lot more community focused.
I used to say that the radius of your personal space changes depending on which country you live in. For example, in the USA your personal space can be as huge as the distance is between two metro station in New York. Immense. On the contrary, in Chile people live in each other lives, literally in the life of the others, deeply rooted in such interconnectedness, and closing up on your aura up to your skin. That was a bit too much for me that time.
Hungary is somewhere in between with all its balkan-close heriatge of community connections and individualism from historical heritage in the same time. There almost nobody is talking to you from 1 cm of your face – which again can happen in Spain. But it’s not disturbing any more, I am getting used to it.
When I was in Munich in January 2015 on an Open Floor Ground Floor Lab, I learned an african proverbe which says:
“If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”
Since then some invisible parts in me were silently contemplating on the wiseness of this proverb. And I’ve finally come to a deeper understanding, down to the bones: it’s not only about being connected with everyone else, with any other existing being. It’s that we are literally in this thing together, and we aren’t going anywhere from here until the last little tiny part of us have found the way home.
Because we are going far, very far, beyond the imaginable realitites. Science is getting there soon, step by step, into the century where science-ficton is an everyday habit. And we can’t leave each other behind.
This is what service is about as well… bowing down to the ground, when there is no place for the ego, it doesn’t matter who YOU are: the only thing that matters, is the act that you can or cannot perform where you are, when it is needed, to that person or for that thing/cause for which is needed. Nothing less, nothing more.
Therefore hard times not only require furious dancing (Alice Walker), but also require to surrender, to go with the flow, stop fighting, stop revolutioning, just stop, and quitely, with no partiuclar word or grimace or action or drama, bow. Surrender. And serve.
A hungarian philosopher, Bela Hamvas says in one of his books:
“…who wants to shorten the time fate has given him at one particular station of life, inevitably invokes the multiple of the difficulties of that station. For at each station we must stay a certain specified time, and no one can shorten this time unpunished.”
Setting my attitude for service, whenever, wherever, for whoever it can be, being aware of my own needs and abilities (not to overspend my energies and reserves); I truly believe that I am acting toward something. Should I be against of certain things, I can’t change them presently, I’d just make my life a lot more harder: it doesn’t depend on me. I need luck, and opportunities, and a chance to be given to find a suitable job for my skills and competencies. Sending applications is one side, but getting indoor is another part. I need that other side to come halfway to get me through.
Setting my attitude right, and stopping complaining, or fighting against the situation, or hunting the waves, I free myself from the burden of the situation. Serving others I do serve my own self as well, this is that Trismegistus-type secret we always forget. We do belong together, all of us, and we can’t leave this place withouth each other.
The I doesn’t matter. Sounds bad, isn’t it? Especially when I think of totally despersonalizing modern cultures of “mass” of people. And when I think about this individualizing culture we are living in. It hurts.
What’s important then? Connections. Communities. Change. Causes. Relations. Things, we can stand for, acts of kindness and generousity; offering helping hand impersonally, on the way we can, accepting what we are capable to do and what is beyond our reach.
I am somewhere in between an introvert and extrovert person. More of an introvert. But this changes periodically. I think the healthy way is to keep both parts, those who contribute to be an introvert, and the ones pushing to be an extrovert sometimes. Maybe we don’t need to be pure this or pure that – I don’t even believe that exists.
I’ve spent so much time alone. Being part of a community or a group: time to time I need to pull out, to hide and restore my own space. I do pull out each and every time, I observe this dynamics since many years, this is how it is, this is one of the things which haven’t changed during the decades.
It’s healthy to be alone. It’s helathy to be with someone. It’s healthy to be part of a community and/or a group. It’s healthy to feel connected with something beyond our existence. It’s healthy to discover your won dynamics, and when it’s time, to act according to the hunger you bear in your heart: to the hunger of being alone, or being with someone, or being with friends, or being with God.
Because we ought to go far. Some of us ought to go quick: though after discoveries they come back to us, slower ones, to lead. Becasue at the end, we ought to go far.
I chose to go far. I chose to go together.