I was watching Benny and Joon the other night with the husband and at the very beginning of the movie, one of benny’s friends is talking about a conversation with his wife, where the wife asked if he needed her, and this apparently really freaked the friend out. That got me to thinking about why a married person would be freaked out by the idea of being needed or needing someone else and I realized that this whole idea of needing other people, is kind of a touchy one in our society. We are all supposed to be rugged individualists, bravely facing each new dawn, certain in our ability to handle life’s challenges unaided and unafraid.
This adoration of self-reliance is really one of the founding concepts of American life. In the beginning we decided to strike out to a strange new world far away and once we got there we decided that we didn’t need anyone telling us what to do and American history has been about a series of new frontiers and expanding boundaries ever since. We as a people love the frontier and in our minds these frontiers are populated by tough people who don’t need anyone. But the story of our frontiers are not stories about lone people doing it on their own. They are about groups of people, couples and families and communities surviving together and helping each other. Those families needed each other in a way that is completely foreign to us now. They literally could not survive and certainly could not thrive alone.
In this day and age, needing people is seen as weak. If you’re truly successful you’ll know it by how independent you are. If you have everything you want what need do you have for another person? After all everything you want you can provide for yourself. It is one of the most unfortunate aspects of modern society that we are so afraid to need someone. How can you be a real team if you don’t trust or need the other members? Yet we try over and over again to form relationships where we refuse to need and feel trapped when we are needed and we wonder why they fall apart.
I love the quote above because it’s so real. Those lives aren’t built on standing alone and yet also living some fairy tale happily ever after. It’s talking about life and work and how rewarding those things can be when you have someone else to stand with you.