For those of you not aware, I’m the second oldest of eleven (soon to be twelve) kids.
Considering that blogging usually has a lot to do with pulling wisdom from real life, I’d say my family size gives me an unfair advantage in the field. 😛 Life experiences (and wisdom, if you’re not too proud to see it) abound in large families.
And I, being the diligent blogger that I am, keep my eyes well peeled for that inspiration. (Okay, not really. But it sounded good.)
Yesterday I was playing with the baby.
She’s only just started standing up on her own and trying to walk. She hasn’t taken her first step yet, but she’s bound and determined that she will— and all on her own, too.
I was sprawled out on the floor beside her, watching her babble and shriek and flail her arms in celebration whenever she managed to push herself up and stand without wobbling. She usually made it for just as long as she decided not to try walking, then flopped back down with a grunt and got ready to try again.
After about ten minutes of up and down, up and down, scrub, rinse, repeat, her legs started to get a little wobbly. Pushing herself away from the floor was harder, and teetering her way upright got next to impossible. At this point her tiny pink face was scrunched up in a determined scowl, and her lower lip stuck all the way out in concentration.
Chuckling to myself, I reached out to give her a hand up.
She jerked herself away with an indignant squeal and kept trying alone.
I laughed, but the next moment it hit me that I can be just as pointlessly stubborn. Sometimes I feel like that headstrong craving for independence is the story of my life. I don’t want your help— I want to do it by myself!
Nobody else knows how to do this right. No one understands. It will get done better if I do it alone. I work alone. I’m a loner. I’m not a team player. I’m not that great in groups. I can’t think with other people; I need to be alone. I’m independent. I’ll be stronger if I do this alone.
I’ve said or thought all of those things at one point or another, some of them multiple times. Unfortunately for me and my self-constructed ideals of independence, a very wise book I know has something very specific to say about that kind of attitude:
A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.
I think this is a widespread affliction of the human race as a whole, and the artist niche in particular. It may seem relatively harmless, but its root is pride, and nothing good ever came from that.
We have lots of excuses. Why do we act like obsessive little work-hoarding dragons, scraping our projects into little piles and then flopping down on top of them with wings spread and teeth bared to scare away everyone else?
Alone protects me. It’s scary opening up to other people. What if they don’t get it? I wouldn’t be able to deal with their fingerprints all over my work; it just wouldn’t be the same. I don’t need help; isn’t that cheating? Doesn’t that mean I’m weak? I have to prove me to myself before I can ask other people to take me seriously. They’ll just laugh.
Yeah… maybe some will. But we weren’t created to be alone. (Yes, that includes us Introverts. Take out your headphones and listen up, peeps.) Behind every great man or woman are hundreds of people who touched them, shaped them, and enabled them. Life is too big for someone to tackle on their own. We were created within families, and given friends and communities, so we could all do this together.
It’s not a call for you to live the lives of others for them, or demand that others do that for you, but it is a clear indicator that all of us need help. Whenever we try something new, we have to start with baby steps. Helping hands are not a burden. If we shy away from the very thought of them, cringing because they threaten our independence, maybe our independence needs some threatening.
A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.