No Man Is an Island

The best part of writing is that as I contemplate a part of my past, I gain new understanding. Last Sunday I wrote You Raise Me Up and as I thought about all the people who were affected by our car accident, the beginning words of a famous poem came to mind.

“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 any manner of thy friends 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.” Written by John Donne (1572-1631) a Jacobean poet and preacher.

The words came to mind because I realized how much I needed others to help me through this tragedy and it occurred to me most humans cannot succeed or survive on their own.  As much as I want and strive to be independent, the article helped me understand I’m not and never will be. It’s humbling to recognize how much I need other people, but it also encourages me to reach out and give back to others. Humans are social beings and no one is totally self-sufficient; most everyone relies on another for survival.

It also occurred to me since we live in an interdependent society, our actions will always affect someone else. How often have you thought, I can do this and it will only affect me?  No one else has to know or will even care. This is most likely not the case. The only way for your actions to affect no one but yourself is to live all alone on an island, right?

Castaway-islandDid you see the movie Cast Away filmed in 2001 with Tom Hanks?  He played Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer. His existence was ruled by the clock, but life as he knew it abruptly ended when a horrendous plane crash left him isolated on a remote island. Chuck struggles to survive on his own.

wilson ballWhile collecting debris from the plane he comes across a brand new Wilson volleyball. Chuck paints a face and adds ornamental grass in it to give it hair. Wilson becomes his only companion and when he loses Wilson in a violent storm, I actually cried right along with Chuck.

Although this is a fiction story, it depicts how much we humans need other people. It also points out that while Chuck was stranded on an island, many others were affected by his sudden absence and unknown location, especially by those who loved and cared for him.

We can often feel alone, but in fact we never really are. Thinking our actions affect only ourselves is another misconception. We want to be independent, but we live in an interdependent society.

What does “No Man Is an Island” mean to you? I’d love to read your thoughts.