(Highly recommended–left: A classic film by Robert Redford–Columbia DVD, Brad Pitt’s best-ever performance; right: the interesting making of the film–DML DVD)
:Our earliest sense is that of being simultaneously connected and removed. Attached, literally, to our mothers, and yet somehow, separate, living separate lives especially from the point of umbilical cord severance. We go on from that critical physical juncture –experiencing and feeling a combination of the two states.
In our childhoods, we become known by our unique names, as separate entities, and, indeed, we are conscious of such from a very early age, what British philosopher Alan Watts called the “skin-encapsulated ego”. For many, that is our essential separateness with the attendant separate sense of consciousness that goes with personal identity and individual personality. We often feel and think differently from others, experiencing things differently and uniquely. “Although we know that on some level we are always connected, our most common experience is one of estrangement.” (Margot Adler)
And yet there is a basis for connection between us all because of our common humanity–gender, ethnic, racial, and physical differences aside. We have many characteristics in common because we are all homo sapiens. And, for many of us, there is a desire to connect or to experience connection as much as possible. This is reflected in our common need for family, friends, mates, role models, and heroes. For some, the connection may be to a religion, to a political/social model or philosophy, or to nature (Shakespeare’s “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.”). Often the search for connection is for one person or thing that gives us a feeling of fulfillment, and a sense of life purpose.
The states of being connected or removed, two ends of a continuum, so to speak, also lead to conflicts, often irresoluble conflicts or binds. We talk of having mixed feelings about something or someone, sometimes to the point of being removed or separated from that which or those whom we love very deeply. And, within ourselves, too, we may one day find and come to recognize that we are, after all is said and done, mostly removed or connected by nature, living out a removed and connected ‘dance’ between opposites that never ends and is, in some ways, the most puzzling human paradox of all.
Pretty basic, but potentially illuminating in a given moment as to how we feel about someone or something else. I think our ‘skin-encapsulated ego” often gets in the way of connection with others; it’s just the way we’re biologically built. Ego and ego-consciousness removes and separates us from others, especially from others’ experiences, which we can never totally understand since we are not them, so to speak.
At best, we can only empathize and identify with others which is usually as good as it gets in matters of connected connectedness. Having said all that, yes, we have a common humanity and common structures and behaviors that fundamentally connect people (and animals).
No doubting we spend a fair bit of time seeking and maintaining connection; something there often is which does not like removal or the state of being removed. Mixed feelings enter into the picture sooner or later. At any given moment, we are either connected or removed, and satisfied or restless about that relative condition.
In A River Runs Through It, for instance, Norman’s conflicts about his brother Paul exemplify the two states. He would like to stay connected with Paul and help him, but his brother has a penchant for being an individual and going his own way as well as a desire to keep his life separate from and removed from his brother and family. Removed is simply who and what he is as a person. As is also pointed out, despite his tragic removedness, his family remains mournfully connected to him with their various unresolved feelings of neverending connection.
As in that book and movie, connected and removed states constantly play out themselves in most family or personal relationships. And so there are usually mixed feelings about these states as they pertain to ourselves and the many others in our lives.