Discovering Self-Reliance

I was not raised in the same wild and gorgeous circumstances as my two sons on a medium sized coastal island in between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.  In fact, I lived in many different suburbs of Southern Ontario bouncing from one elementary school to the next as my mother struggled to make it in one town after another.

Derek Jean, Sailing into the Salish Sea from Alaska in 2010.

I believe it was the sense of survival that was most obscured by my lack of awareness about just how precarious and perilous existence in the cities can be.  Independence seems to get high priority in society on leaving the nest to become successful in the “world” and make it on your own.

I think there is something askew about society’s value system because Self Reliance doesn’t get talked about much and seems to receive less importance than independence.  In an 1841 essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson titled, “Self-Reliance“, he describes the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency, and follow his own instincts and ideas. How is it that any of us demonstrates independence vs. self-reliance?  If we really look beyond the outward appearances of independent behaviours in society, we may find that many of us are not independent at all. More that we have simply transferred our dependence from our parental figures over to mainstream authorities such as institutions, corporations and government organizations.  If instead, we gave more value to self-reliance and remained dependent on our adult caregivers until we naturally became independent, would we not become more self-reliant and self-authoring of our lives?

Many adults in our societies seem immature to me, leading lives that are fundamentally scripted or rebellious against the context of society.  True independence would be free of this construct, wouldn’t it?  It would also enable a mature adult to draw on his inner resources as well as those resources available to him to live freely as an inhabitant of the earth rather than within a machine made framework of runaway proportions such as the western civilization.

My children are teetering on the edge of possibilities, while literally living on the edge of wilderness where raw uninhabited nature meets mainstream post industrial population explosion.  For me it is simply a matter of which direction I choose to point them.  Somehow, along the way, I discovered the ultimate meaning of self-reliance.  Its the realization that we have authority over the most ultimate resource.  Divine will.  Its simply a matter of surrendering into a willingness to humbly see through the illusion of separateness.

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