Serious question: Have you ever written something and gone back a very long time later (looking for a specific pull quote) to reuse it in new content and thought to yourself, “damn… That was pretty fucking good”? I know this sounds a lot like shallow vanity, but cut me some slack; a writer ain’t worth his or her salt if we can’t go back occasionally and admire our work. Such was the case this morning when I decided to put this piece together on the competing nature of our natural yearnings for solitude while having to also satisfy our inherent need as a species to socialize with others.
I had been going through my usual morning routine, minding my own business while scrolling through new entries in my feeds, and had come across a new writer that had published something about solitude. Hermit that I am, you can imagine this immediately caught my eye, and off I went down the inevitable “over morning coffee” rabbit hole” that happens to me literally every morning. An hour later, having traversed a number of popular quotes from the likes of Twain, Thoreau, and even Marcus Aurelius (along with a brief sojourn into the Old Testament and the Book of Psalms) and when I picked my head up an hour later, I was 140 Pages deep into the manuscript of “Unwashed Philosophy” re-reading my commentary on the issue of the eternal inner struggle our species is forced to contend with as we try to strike some balance between our need to socialize and our desperate yearnings for solitude. Consider this passage:
“As it has been since we first stood upright in Africa and later began to establish sedentary communities, the Individual is comprised of two very distinct yet disparate features, each of which fluctuates in its degree of power over the other; the primal and compelling need to socialize, and the oft-times overwhelming yearnings for solitude and isolation. And, as much as we like our peace and quiet, it is inevitable that, sooner or later, we will seek out human contact.”
Thinking back to where my head was at the time I first wrote that, I remembered that the world had more or less come to a screeching halt. Everyone was locked indoors, shut down, mask and vaccine mandated, and the entire planet was pretty much sheltering in place and isolating themselves from every other human on the planet. It was a glorious time for people like me who prefer to live that way year-round, but for the people that cannot survive (or at least maintain some level of human interaction), it was as if the world had come to an end; more people were dying than being born, no one was allowed to get close enough to each other to replenish the supply of humanoids, and people were more consumed by fear than they were by the primal urge to attend to the necessary reproductive business of continuing the species. But if I may be so bold, let me offer that I think that period of time could have been an incredible opportunity to pause, reflect, and take a long hard look at ourselves and our leaders and the way we let them treat us, along with how terribly we have been treating each other. Unfortunately, we squandered this moment right when we should have been busy extricating our craniums from our sphincters. And seizing on the opportunity we had been given to get our collective shit together.
Homo sapiens have been around for better than 300,000 years, yet, for all that can be said about some of the really dumb things we’ve done so far as a species, what we have always been good at is coming together in times of crisis, tending to each other’s needs and taking care of the least Among Us, and trying to learn from our mistakes so that our subsequent Generations will benefit from our wisdom and apply it to their own subsequent Generations. In fact, I said as much elsewhere in that first book when I suggested that:
“On a primal level, it is incumbent upon us to seek out others in order to sustain the species, but because we are inherently social creatures, we are, by nature, compelled to interact with one another. We share stories about our experiences, we listen to the stories of others, we offer ideas to each other, and we learn from each other, and we form or carry forward our opinions about the matters at hand. As well, some of us teach, and some of us learn, and all of us improve, hopefully, our “human condition” while at least trying to help others improve theirs.”
I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest that, for several years now, the amount of pressure being applied by those in possession of the most power, wealth, and influence is putting the rest of us at odds with our own inherent (and innate) Human Nature; true of every living species that has ever existed, only so much pressure on the natural order of things can be absorbed before that species self-corrects or is brought to extinction. Given the track record of our species, in contrast, with the track record of all the power, wealth, and influence that has risen and fallen during the course of those 300,000 years, my money’s on the “little guy” because, well, that’s human nature… it’s just how we roll.