Although we can’t see the face of the woman paddling the kayak in this photograph, the image seems to tell us a lot about her. We assume she is mentally and physically strong, someone capable of taking care of herself, of pulling her own weight. Properly equipped, she appears to be at ease with adventure, having paddled out to greet an amazing sunset in a solo kayak. Even when traveling with companions, individuals in solo kayaks often paddle for long periods lost in their own thoughts. I think most of us instinctively admire individuals who display this sort of comfortable self-sufficiency.
(Some of you might prefer to imagine yourself in a tandem kayak, thinking how romantic that might be. Perhaps it is for some couples, but you might want to Google “divorce boats” to discover why paddlers sometimes use that phrase as slang for tandem kayaks.)
The protagonists of stories, novels, and films are often individuals who are self-sufficient enough to stand apart from others, and can do so for long enough to accomplish something unusual. This is certainly true of our fictional spies, adventurers, and superheroes. Their capacity to somehow manage to do what needs to be done is a large part of why such characters fascinate us. These characters may have signficant relationships with others, but their closest relationships are likely to be with individuals who are self-sufficient enough to share some capacity for adventure.
What about the creative artists who imagine such characters? An often overlooked trait for many kinds of creative work is the ability to spend long periods working alone. Artists, writers, scientists, and other types of creative people tend to have this ability. Many of them can be fun and companionable away from their work, but they can also work happily for long periods in solitude. Keeping that it mind, perhaps those best suited to living with relatively self-sufficient individuals are those who are relatively self-sufficient themselves.
[Photograph by Christian Wheatley via iStockphoto.com]