Thursday, July 19, 2012

No Man is an Island

No Man is an Island (English poet John Donne 1572-1631)
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee. 
Many years ago (well, in context of all of history, not really), I was introduced by E.P. (Exalted Patriarch-my father) to the concept of daily reading a chapter of Proverbs. It works out great since there are 31 chapters in the book and each month has 30, 31, or 28 (I know 29 on Leap Years) days. On the last day of the month, if it is less than 31, just finish the remaining chapters. This provided 12 readings of the book of wisdom a year. Knowledge (wisdom, actually) IS power.

From yesterday’s reading:

Proverbs 18:1 (NKJV)
“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all sound judgment.”
The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

I wouldn't necessarily say I “struggle” with [my self-imposed] isolation because it is actually my preference; however, I know it is not a sustainable condition and I need to get out of the cave and be social.  Being alone all the time reduces the potential accountability of my actions and I can succumb to temptations since there would be no witnesses.  That is basically what the first part of the above verse says to me.  If you chose to be alone, you can do your own thing which is NOT what God intends.  The second part basically cries out to me that it just doesn't make sense to be alone: strength in numbers, not good to be alone, societal expectations and responsibilities...lots of reasons NOT to be alone.

I am called to reach out to people and touch their life as Jesus would: hard to do if I isolate myself.

A poignant reminder of the failures of self-isolation is the lyrics of the Paul Simon (and later Simon and Garfunkel) song, "I am a Rock":

“I am a Rock” © 1965 Paul Simon
A winter's day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.
I've built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island. 
Don't talk of love,
But I've heard the words before;
It's sleeping in my memory.
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island. 
I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island. 
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

This is a very sad song to me, since I see so much of my past (especially the last several years) in it.  No more, I am reaching out and actively involving myself in the lives of others (or at least making the effort).

Standing order:
Healing from the colon cancer and metastasized liver.
Complete reconciliation with my wife (that I can communicate effectively and love her as she deserves).
Health and safety of my children.

Safe travels as I head to Midland for chemo Friday-Sunday.
Side effect free chemo round (even with new, more agressive drugs).
Good report from pre-chemo blood test concerning tumor markers (reducing to reflect my healing and good blood cell counts to keep immune system strong).
Daughter's broken tooth and pending repair (pain and drama free appointment Friday at 1:50 EST and cost not too crazy).
Medical bills which are accumulating (that I can return to work to pay these).
My personal/spiritual growth.


  1. As you are overly happy alone, I am overly happy in social situations.

  2. I am working on my "social side." I do pretty good, but sometimes need prodding to leave the cave.