No man is an island. Yet we aren’t all truly connected either. The new age of electronic connectedness provides many of the components of feeling connected — enough that we can tranquilize ourselves that we are — but when it comes to interpersonal interaction there’s less true connecting going on than ever, in part because of the facades we create with media, not to mention our obsession with our mobile devices.

What can a man live without? There’s a short list of a few things required for survival.

Okay, but let’s move beyond mere survival. What do we need to flourish? That’s a much more complex issue.

Infrastructure. We need the pieces in place that help open doors and smooth the way for us to overcome the forces in ourselves and the world that try to keep us standing pat, retreating in fear. We need nurturing of just the right kind. We need to be educated, but not just in the way the schools teach (how to conform and be good consumers and workers). We need a supportive social network. A real one, not just some friends who are hiding behind their own facades or too scared to fully engage or take risks on our behalf. We need to see close up examples of real initiative and leadership. We need to be coached by someone who shows up as credible and sincerely caring about our best interests, not crippled with fear and self absorption. And we need the humility and honesty to be willing to receive these gifts.

We need love. Real love. Not just the emotion that someone would be bummed if we weren’t part of their life anymore, but people who are secure enough in themselves to act in a manner that we learn to be secure in and love ourselves. We need to love ourselves, and respect ourselves. Otherwise we can’t truly help anyone. And if we can’t help anyone what good are we?

We all need that infrastructure, to be connected.

It has to start somewhere. You can be the one to reach out. You should reach out. You may help yourself most of all.

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