It’s good to make contact, isn’t it? By contact I mean the whole array of human contact, be it friendship, intimate relationships, acquaintance or nodding hello to someone you pass. Of course it’s a good thing, or so I assume.
But is withdrawal and solitude also a good thing? It seems so, as when not in contact with others I can rest, recharge, perhaps find myself. It seems to be equally nourishing and harder to find in our connected world.
So which is better, contact or withdrawal? I find the problem is in how I frame the question. Neither is better, both seem necessary, so where does the judgement I make come from? Is this a cultural assumption or just mine?
I don’t know the answer to that, but it does make me reflect on how I see things as opposites and make judgements about which is better: independence and dependence, contact and withdrawal, rationality and intuition, selfishness and altruism. The list could go on.
My learned mind-sets prevent me from seeing the light and shadow in every position. For example, Western thought (and therefore mine) very much values independence, yet we are all interdependent, perhaps more than at any other time in history. Being dependent appears to have a bad name, yet the greatest intimacy and love often requires trust and dependence, a kind of spiritual surrender. The light side of independence is personal strength and resourcefulness, yet its shadow might be difficulty surrendering that independent wilfulness to relationship. Were I to be really independent any contact I had might become on my terms only, making my independence a way to withdraw. Contact implies some surrender of self and moving into dependence. So here I am again, needing both, but caught by my unconscious judgements.
‘Life is difficult’ said M. Scott Peck. The part I find difficult is unlearning all my own assumptions and valuing everything in my life. It’s a lifetime task.