Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Independence and Selfishness

After a week of long sunny days there was rain this afternoon. When it was over it had done little more than settle the dust. This evening the sky is still heavy with storm clouds and a trickle of breeze in the air, a promise of more to come. These are ideal conditions for a walk, as Lady is so keen to inform me, also ideal conditions for reflection.
I’ve been away for a few days, a trip on the River Berounka. I was with a group I’ve been with before, I know three of them well enough to call friends, friendships cemented by mutual help and shared experiences over the years. Each year they construct a raft, boards laid on planks sat atop old inner tubes. Everything required for the four day trip is carried on board and the craft makes its way downstream sometimes paddled, occasionally gently turning on the current. It is pushed, pulled, man-handled over the weirs loaded and unloaded. The group gets down the river through teamwork.
I’m happy to be in a team, contributing what I can to the common good, but sometimes, just sometimes, I have to express the unease that I feel. There’s that feeling that I’m being coerced, manipulated, I’m losing something, my individuality is being nibbled away. In many situations in my life I’ve felt this, from the positive side proud of a tough independent streak, from the negative side embarrassed by the selfishness of it.
This evening I’m with a dog, a less demanding relationship.


  1. This is an issue that never seems to go away in one's life -- how to live in the world, yet not be a part of it -- how to be part of a community, yet remain an independent individual. It's always a struggle, but I suspect each person has a default position, and mine, if forced to choose, would be the individual life, even if it appears to be selfish to others. Finding the balance, of course, is always the challenge. The nice thing about dogs is that no effort is required to be simultaneously both an individual and part of a relationship. A very nice posting, Tramp, one that many can relate to.


    You are a deep thinker and an excellent writer. Your team effort for four days down the river seemed, well, adventurous and brave to me. I DO understand the whole 'who am I amongst the many" questions. Thing is, I always know - I am a leader - trend setter - a decision maker - a strong voice and people listen and follow with confidence. Perhaps I manipulate others, who knows! Gret thought provoking post. Thanks. And I so love you and Lady together - perfect. :-)

    Love to you
    peace and hope......

  3. An interesting reflection, Tramp. Perhaps there's no perfect state - I know that in company, as part of a team, I can feel constricted, claustrophobic, as though part of the real 'me' lies hidden and misunderstood. Then again, by my independent self, I can sometimes become lonely, or too obsessive and solipsistic. There's no real answer, is there?

  4. You know, Tramp, I expect this feeling of unease you mention only becomes an issue for those of us who—by nature—are not "herd" creatures. We can fit ourselves into a group without ever truly becoming a part of that group. A temporary adaptation.

    Or to out it another way…while we occasionally float upon the mainstream of that great river of fellow humans and their endeavors, we always feel a naggling urge to jump ship, a pull akin to gravity which whispers to turn the other way, forgo the ease of allowing the current to carry us where it chooses. Instead, our nature compels us to explore the tributaries, find the headwaters and perhaps the wellspring source of the current.

    We're not being contrary. It is simply an an unstoppable singing in the blood and explains why while most men live their lives in or near cities, others—a few who hear the quiet music of the stars—instead sling a pack over their shoulders, whistle up the dog, grab a walking stick…and go see what lies yonder, in back of beyond.

  5. George
    It can be disturbing when you know that you seem somewhat selfish to others who you have a lot of respect for. There is also a cultural thing here, my friends spent most of their lives under communism and however much they resisted it, it affects their outlook. Having said that, I have felt elsewhere in my life.
    Anyway, off on the E10 for a day tomorrow...Tramp

    Glad you finally got through.
    These balances are so difficult to get right.
    It can be difficult to distinguish between ambition and greed, pride and arrogance and other similar positive and negative traits.
    These are themes for other entries!
    Good friends try to understand, even when it's difficult for them.

    Yes, the feeling I am being pressurized into being something that I'm not and my individuality is being taken away is aggravated by the feeling that I'm letting people down. Of course this only matters to me if I respect the group in which case it can be so frustrating. Thanks for sharing that...Tramp

    Trust you to see it in terms of rivers!!