Monday, October 10, 2005

Connections

Bertrand Russell once said, "To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead."

That makes a certain amount of sense, I suppose. But when you really dig into the implications, it can be absolutely frightening. I am, by nature, an introvert. I don't get along well with crowds of people. Hell, I don't get along well with three people in a room together, unless I know them well. Family reunions are a nightmare for me. There are times when I think that I could spend the rest of my life not meeting anyone new and be perfectly content.

And then I see my new nephew, and remember that he's a new person, and that he deserves a chance to form a connection with "Uncle Mike". And I smile. And I realize that I can be a great big idiot.

Even major introverts like myself need human contact. And not just with the people already accepted into our "inner circle" of safe people, either. It's hard work to continue seeking connections outside our own, by definition, small social groups.

So why bother? Simple. Human contact is part of being human. As ol' Bert said above, fear of love is fear of life, and I refuse to fear life. I work to embrace it. Even though my family has pissed me off time and time again, I keep going back to them, because they're more good than bad. I keep meeting my wife's coworkers and making nice with them. Why? Because they may be worth knowing. If L. likes 'em, then there's something good there. I've never known her to grossly misjudge a character before. I trust her instincts. It doesn't hurt that she's an extrovert, and is seemingly constantly forcing new people on me. I know that she's not really doing that, but sometimes it feels like it. And I have to fight against that feeling. Because it would be really easy for me to convince myself that I don't need human contact anymore. It would be so simple for me to just let myself slip into a place where connections to the world around me became unimportant. After all, most people are sheep not worth knowing anyway, right?

Wrong. Even sheep have something to offer, and as often as I classify the bulk of humanity as sheep, they aren't. They're often easily led, gullible, stupid, short-sighted and mean. But they aren't sheep. They're people, and they deserve the same respect my new nephew does. He may be a sheep. He may be a wolf. If we're all lucky, he'll be another shepherd. Goodness knows we need a few more of those. But he will be human. And I have to work to overcome my natural inclinations, and give him a chance to show me what he'll be, and whether, sheep or wolf, he's worth spending my life, and love, on.

If I don't give him, and others, the chance to connect to me, if I don't try to connect to others, then that circle of safe people starts to slip away. Parents pass away and friends move. That's when the coldness starts to set in. Then your wife and kids sense the change and withdraw and suddenly, you don't have a circle of safe people. You have yourself, and no one else.

I refuse to let that happen to me. I feel sorry for anyone who doesn't refuse. Just because you're an introvert doesn't mean that you have to be alone. Some people buy into the whole introvert thing a little too much, and use it as an excuse to not get hurt. But you have to expose yourself to getting hurt. You have to expose yourself to rejection. That's the only way to make the connections in life that matter. That's the only way to avoid fearing love.

To do otherwise leads down one of two paths. Either you end up like Howard Hughes, storing your own urine in bottles and refusing contact with the outside world.

Or else you give yourself a short drop, a sudden stop and a dirt nap.

3 Comments:

Anonymous K. said...

You left out the "Up in a belltower with a rifle." option.

That, and I have very good reasons for storing that stuff. At least it's in plastic, and thus harder to break.

We'll need to start sitting down and talking more. I'm needing some depth.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Coralius said...

Good point about the bell tower. Of course, you would think of that, now wouldn't you?

8:24 AM  
Anonymous k. said...

Hey, if I'm gonna go out like that, I'm taking as many of you people with me as is feasible. Besides, I think our alama mater needs more snipers.

5:09 AM  

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"Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul..." -- Mark Twain

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Fire does not wait for the sun to be hot,

Nor the wind for the moon, to be cool.

-- the Zenrin Kushu