A few words and an analogy that relates to self-reliance, shared with me by a good friend.
I’m going to make an attempt to add a bit of a poetic spin to it, while making sure I stay true to the message.
So imagine this, you are drinking out of a glass. This “glass” is everything you need at this moment to quench your thirst. It fulfills a need, and has a purpose. This glass feels like the perfect fit; the way it fits in your hand, how it rests upon your lips when you drink from it, this glass holds just the right amount of water.
One day, a corner of the rim chips and creates a sharp edge. It’s still your favorite glass, so you keep using it. After all, slight imperfections and sharp edges can be worked around. Despite your conscious avoidance of the sharp edge, you occasionally find yourself drinking from the wrong side and inevitably cut your lips.
They heal, and you ever so carefully and mindfully, continue to drink from that same glass. You don’t want to use another glass, this is the glass. YOUR glass. The only glass that fits the curve of your hand and molds to your lips the way this one does.
Then, the glass breaks. You are caught off guard. You scramble. Frantically gathering the shards and painstakingly gluing the pieces back together. Fractured, but once again restored to a type of pseudo wholeness, you can continue to drink from this glass.
It’s a paradox…
How can something be so broken, but still have a purpose and function?
There are plenty of other glasses in the cupboard, but you don’t want a new glass. You like the old one. There is a strange sense of comfort there…shards, glue and all. The broken pieces exposing parts of the glass you haven’t seen before, and giving you the opportunity to love these new, previously unexposed parts.
Time passes, you have learned how to drink from this gloriously fragile and broken glass. The glass can’t hold the same amount of water it once did, because there is a slow trickle of water that is seeping out through the broken parts. So you simply fill it twice, or drink sparingly. Maybe you don’t really need to drink that much?
Maybe half of what you once had, from a broken glass is enough to quench your thirst?
You learn to maneuver your hands and lips in such a way that the least amount of damage is done. You sip carefully, never quite drinking fully, and then just as you convince yourself that you are grateful to just have a glass, no matter how broken…it happens.
The glass breaks again.
This time, more shards, more pieces to glue back together. You are devastated. It seems impossible to put this glass back together in any sort of way. Yet you gather the pieces and you try so hard to make this glass work. Sheer determination and willingness, outside help and the best glue money can buy, restores this glass to a pale semblance of what it once was.
You take the glass, water now streaming out of every broken crack and fissure, you stubbornly raise it to your lips to drink. There is no safety there, nowhere to risk resting your lips, but you force yourself to try, the thirst you have going against your better judgment.
The water now stained bright crimson, your mouth torn open in too many places. You realize that drinking from this glass yields more pain than pleasure and further enduring this is damaging you.
Too much pain, too much thirst. You simply cannot continue to drink from this glass anymore.
Now, you must decide. Do you reach for a new glass? Take your chances?
Or…do you simply teach yourself to quench your own thirst by learning to cup your own two hands under the running water? Your hands will hold all the water you need, they are with you always, unbreakable and shatterproof.
This is self-reliance.