Society is both an aid and impediment to solitary progress. An aid for the distance gained through collective endeavor. A restraint by way of the bonds of fraternity and common thought.
Imagine a hermit crab born and raised on a sandy underwater ledge. All of the crabs there have big right-hand pincers and wear spiral snail shells. The sand is pearl white with patches of delicious lime-green sea grass. A pleasant place.
There’s a slope dropping into darkness, and in the distance another slope rising to a different ledge. One of the crabs is curious about the far ledge, wants to visit, though he can’t traverse the chasm without first shedding his protective snail shell. So he drops the shell and hops over the ledge into darkness.
After a difficult journey to the other side, the naked hermit crab discovers a strange land of rocky black volcanic boulders, covered with sour-tasting brown algae, and hermit crabs quite unlike himself. These new crabs have big left-hand pincers which immediately distinguish him as an outsider with his enormous right-hand pincer. Also, instead of making homes of snail shells, the crabs here use lightweight porous volcanic stones. This means that to enter a stone the crab from the other side must first twist and contort his body into unfamiliar angles. A painful and difficult process. The crab has a choice; turn back to his old home, or adjust and create a new home.
The crab elects to stick around, squeezing himself painfully into volcanic stone, learning to eat the sour algae instead of the sweet sea grass, and getting used to everyone staring at his enormous right-hand pincer. And though he kinda fits in, he’s still a crab from the other side. Always will be. Gets used to it….kinda.
Eventually the foreign crab becomes tolerant of the different crabs, and even tolerant of his own difference. He sees benefits of both crab cultures; struggles daily with his own bias and prejudice, and becomes painfully aware of his own frail and strange idiosyncrasy. He creates a home for himself where he doesn’t really fit in, and in the end discovers that home isn’t a place, but simply a circumstance, and a condition defined by familiarity, a willingness to adapt, and an acceptance of those things we cannot change.