“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man 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 thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee…”
~~John Donne (Renaissance Poet), Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
I recently came across this short poem by John Donne, which I memorized in junior high school and am still able to recite (mostly) today. It’s always meant a great deal to me, to know that I am, always, a part of something much bigger than I.
Although the passage speaks of death, my ‘read’ of it is much more about how we all connect. We are emotional creatures, all linked to one another in deeper ways than most of us admit or realize. When one of our members is angry, we all feel it. When someone comes in with Good News, we all feel lighter for hearing that.
In my mind I rewrite portions of this passage:
Any man’s sadness affects me, because I am involved….
Any man’s success improves me as well, because I am involved…
Any man’s unhappiness diminishes me, because I am involved….
Any man’s Happiness fulfills me, even if not my own, because I am involved…
And so on.
I am human – I am, by my nature, a social animal. I have to be involved. Selfishly, it serves me to stay connected; for when I connect to the humanity in you, I acknowledge my own humanity.
Ahh, doesn’t that feel nice?!
No man is an island…
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