An Untamed, Unpredictable Place – As You Were

As You Were – looking for connections between the work of Brené Brown and Daniel Quinn as I revisit them in book clubs. See the introductory post for what this is all about. In this post, I look at:

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Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Two – The Quest for True Belonging

“We want to be a part of something, but we need it to be real — not conditional or fake or constantly up for negotiation.” Compare Quinn talking about tribal social structures and about how, in indigenous cultures, they offer cradle-to-grave security.

“Belonging to ourselves means being called to stand alone — to brave the wilderness of uncertainty, vulnerability, and criticism.” Compare to Quinn’s critique of civilization always needing to control and domesticate.

“Theologians, writers, poets, and musicians have always used the wilderness as a metaphor, to represent everything from a vast and dangerous environment where we are forced to navigate difficult trials to a refuge of nature and beauty where we seek space for contemplation. What all wilderness metaphors have in common are the notions of solitude, vulnerability, and an emotional, spiritual, or physical quest.
“Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness — an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching… The wilderness can feel unholy because we can’t control it..” Compare Quinn’s critique of civilization as being antithetical to belonging and as demonizing that which it sees as outside itself.

“The special courage it takes to experience true belonging is not just about braving the wilderness, it’s about becoming the wilderness.” Compare Quinn’s focus on the authentic nature of our species having evolved long before civilization existed.

“The only thing for certain is that we know on this quest we’ll need to learn how to navigate the tension of many paradoxes along the way, including the importance of being with and being alone.” Quinn and Brené both routinely look beyond polarized, dichotomous thinking.

Three – High Lonesome: A Spiritual Crisis

“The sorting we do to ourselves and to one another is, at best, unintentional and reflexive. At worst, it is stereotyping that dehumanizes.” Quinn shows how our global civilization inherently involves dehumanization both within as well as toward those outside itself.

“He explains that as member of a social species, we don’t derive strength from our rugged individualism, but rather from our collective ability to plan, communicate, and work together. Our neural, hormonal, and genetic makeup support interdependence over independence… It’s why shame is so painful and debilitating. It’s why we’re wired for belonging.” Quinn shows how civilization inherently cultivates shame and extremes of individualism and collectivism, while tribal social structures inherently cultivate belonging and interdependence by creating win-wins among individuals.

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