As she accompanies the recently orphaned Rose to the UK in search of her long-lost brother, Lyta Hall ends up talking to the handsome man in the plane seat across the aisle. They go back and forth a bit, and the man claims Rose is lucky to not be alone, to have Lyta by her side.
“No, I know, and friends are great but…”
“What?” the man asks.
“When you lose your parents, you suddenly realize it wasn’t gravity keeping you on the ground all this time. It was knowing you were someone’s daughter. Or sister. Or wife, in my case.”
As it turns out, Lyta has lost someone too — and the man sitting so close to her she could touch him is her dead husband. Then, she wakes up.
Psychologist Alfred Adler believed that “all problems are people problems.” As a corollary, almost everything we do is, in one way or another, for others. Even the things we believe we do for ourselves — pursue more money, fame, or freedom — are actually highly incentivized by other people. Chances are, we want to use the money to help our family, the fame to make friends, and the freedom to spend time with the people we love.
Humans are herd animals, be it at the local or at the global level, so nothing any individual human being does happens in a vacuum. It all happens against the backdrop of the rest of humanity — or at least your local community.
In many ways, our being inextricably linked to others keeps us humble. Whether it’s a genuine drive to make your daughter happy or a desperate attempt at proving your dad wrong, the immense power our relationships wield over us is awe-inspiring. How often do we try and fail to escape their controlling grasp?
What Lyta says suggests that, perhaps, we shouldn’t try so hard to be independent. Maybe the fact that we can barely do anything alone is the entire point. There is nothing more devastating than to lose one’s most treasured relationships, and the behavior of some who do often illustrates that truth. When people commit atrocious crimes because they feel they have “nothing left to lose,” it is actually, “no one left to lose” — so they might as well try and take by force what other humans seem to withhold from them.
Don’t feel bad for being so beholden to the people around you. It is the way of things. Everyone struggles in and with their relationships, yet there is much we can do to improve them. When we build a secure foundation of strong connections, we can even thrive thanks to — and perhaps only thanks to — our relationships.
Working with each other, for each other, that’s what being human is all about. What good is it ridding yourself of your crops if everyone around you is a farmer? What are you gonna talk about over dinner?
It’s not gravity keeping us on the ground. It’s our relationships — and that’s exactly the way it’s meant to be.