"We are not individuals who form relationships. We are social animals who form relationships." David Brooks wrote this in his column in today's NYTimes and I've been pondering the difference for a few hours now. The emphasis here is not on our cherished and sometimes insecure individuality but on the fact that we are by nature social animals. We grow up in families because when we are born we cannot survive without caregivers. We are not like baby turtles who emerge from eggs laid weeks earlier and who are wholly prepared for life at the moment of our emergence.
On the basis of those social relationships in our earliest years we begin to recognize our individuality and our ability to form new relationships -- and sometimes our inability to form satisfying ones. Recent psychology about autism and about sociopaths tells us that some children are handicapped in their earliest relationships -- possibly because of an innate brain disorder. As we all know, before psychology many thought some children are simply born bad or evil. Handicapped usually means deficient in some way and a child may be born with various handicaps. We have stopped leaving those obviously handicapped children out to be devoured by wild animals as Oedipus was because he was born with a club foot.
None of this is what Brooks was writing about. I really didn't follow his financial commentary this morning, I got stopped by thinking about the many people who have trouble with adult relationship -- possibly the majority of people -- which is a sad thing to think about. The subject is a big one.
Sometimes it happens that something I read presents a question. As it did today. I don't have an answer; I have only a growing set of questions. Being a person who is not working by society's definition [although I am working by my own definition] I have time for pondering. That may even be one of the "jobs" of those of us in the upper percentages of the age groups.
The mid-70s are a surprise! Part of me remains in the 50s -- age, I mean, not decade of 20th century. It's a joy ride, new experiences land in my lap and I've become a better quilter, poet, writer than I expected. It's a rich life for a person never rich financially. Hey, this is what the mid-70s are like!