What you have to do in this world, you cannot do alone


“What you have to do in this world, you cannot do alone,” Barbara Sher from WishCraft: How to Get What You Really Want. 

I don’t remember ever feeling isolated growing up, or in school, or in the early years of being out in the world. Even when my first husband left suddenly when I was nearly 35. I felt shocked and broken-hearted, but not isolated. I was child-free at the time and maybe that helped. I could stay in bed all day and eat soggy cereal out of a saucepan, crying all over my covers or staring flatly at the wall for hours. What did it matter? Nobody needed me to make them a sandwich or change their diaper, help them with homework or with settling down at the end of the day. It was painful but luxurious in its freedom and self-absorption. I could share in round-the-clock 12-step meetings or take hours selecting individual pieces of fruit at a bodega or wander in and out of a movie theatre at virtually any time of the day (I was living in Manhattan at the time).

But isolation has been a large part of my experience as a mom.

And compounding that isolation is the judgment and shame I’ve had about the isolation.

Since the fall, I’ve been moving out of that and into something new. It’s not picking up the thread from my pre-mothering years and knitting it to where I am now, fourteen years later. It’s entirely new. And as I stare out into the world from my perch on the sidelines, swatches of loose fabric and thread in my lap, I’m focused on what it is I am here to do and it’s clear to me that I’m here to learn how to get what I want. And what I want can only be gotten by being part of a group, a tribe, a community, a team.

That’s how we all get what we want–helping each other, sharing skills and resources. Once upon a time, work and love were intertwined, as was tending to the needs of others and the needs of the self. It’s hard-wired in us for our survival. We’ve lost much of that ‘community of purpose’ now in the wake of our mind-boggling technological advances.

“Most of us remember and treasure every part we’ve ever played in someone else’s survival, satisfaction, or success,” writes Sher. ” And that’s not because we’re a bunch of altruistic saints. It’s because helping each other is creative and it’s the most practical and satisfying way of getting things done. The proof is that so much of our potential stays stubbornly locked inside us as long as we try to tap it alone.”

Sing it, sister Sher. Sing it.

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