Living an Interdependent Life
October 23, 2017
The woods feel like home to me. I feel my connection to the earth more in nature than I do walking down the street. This is why I choose to vacation in the wilderness. Spending time among the trees, ferns, and remnants of a volcano gives me the sense of going home and entering into a family hug. I breathe more easily when I am in nature. I feel more me and more alive in nature. Additionally, I feel more connected to Kim and every other human being that I encounter on my path, unlike the feeling of disconnection that we all can feel from time to time. So, I turn to nature to be my teacher.
Nature is interdependent by its very makeup. All plants require some amount of sun, rain, and nutrients to grow. The natural world does not live in a test tube. No, we humans may classify organisms as independent, but living creatures depend on so many others to survive and to thrive, which makes each living thing interdependent by nature.
We as humans have a different relationship with interdependence. Many people are unfamiliar with the term. Many of us are taught by our parents and our teachers to be independent beings. So, we strive to acquire the skills, obtain the degrees, and learn to never ask for help because we think we should be independent. I know that this was my mindset when I was young and getting started with my career. I wanted to be financially independent. I wanted to take care of myself. I didn’t want to lean on others. Most importantly, I wanted to be seen as independent. Looking back, I can see my younger self wanting to go it alone if you will. I probably thought that there was honor in going it alone.
I had yet to learn that no one goes it alone. Besides, going it alone is a lonely and solitary existence. Supporting people with significant disabilities initially taught me the concept, value, and beauty of interdependence. Joyce, a smart, funny, and wise woman I supported, is blind and in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy. As smart as Joyce is, there is no way that she could get herself physically out of her wheelchair and into a car, let alone onto a commode. Joyce had always had physical support to take care of her most basic needs. Yet, Joyce taught me that just because she wanted and needed support to go through her day did not mean that she didn’t desire and couldn’t achieve a level of independence that worked for her.
Joyce desired balance. She didn’t want to be fully dependent on others. She also knew that she required some support to be able to live her life. So, Joyce lives by herself. She has support that comes from people, technology, and other adaptive equipment that allows Joyce to strike a balance and be interdependent in her life.
Being a witness to Joyce’s life and other people’s lives taught me, in the words of John Donne, that “no man is an island.” And maybe the rest of us who are able-bodied are fooling ourselves with this excruciating need to be independent. Maybe, we only think that we want to be independent. Maybe we enjoy working with other people toward a common goal. Maybe we like asking and receiving help from friends from time to time, like when we are moving or when we would like protection from the storm.
Maybe independence doesn’t really exist. After all, I don’t grow or hunt for my food. I depend on grocery stores, farmers, and people to transport the food from the farms to my local store. Not to mention that I depend on my automobile or the bus to get to and from the store in order to bring the food into my house.
Maybe it’s time to recognize the myth and the loneliness of independence. Maybe it’s time to embrace the concept of interdependence. Take a look around and see all the ways people help other people every day. Do you change your own flat tire? If so, great! If you are like me, you call AAA. Do you ever ask a partner, friend, or family member to listen to you and support you when you are struggling? Have you ever asked for a ride from a friend or neighbor? It’s all right. That’s who we are.
We are not meant to go it alone. We are living beings. Let’s start realizing that we are all living organisms on the planet and we are in this adventure called life together. So, forego the concept of going it alone. Decipher the level of independence that you desire in your life, and allow yourself to ask and accept help from others. Embrace and let yourself see the true beauty of interdependence.
- Where do you see interdependence in the world around you?
- Where in your life are you wanting help?
- Do you beat yourself up for feeling like you want or could use some support?
Currently, I am reading Brené Brown’s newest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. I am almost finished with this book, and I am telling you all that this is one of the most courageous books I have ever read. I applaud Brown for her courage, her tenacity, and her ability to stand up and say something that may not be popular! That’s the sign someone is absolutely brave! This is a winner book, and I am already telling everyone I know about it. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up! It will challenge you, but it will also support you on your journey to be your most courageous and best self!
Here’s a video of Marie Forleo’s show with Brown as a guest discussing her new book! Enjoy!
I want to share Brown’s updated and evolved definition of the concept of true belonging. Brown has a gift with writing, and she nailed this definition!
Additionally, I want to share with all of you someone who is clearly living bravely and courageously! I have been amazingly wowed by the snippets that I have seen of Sarah Silverman’s new show, I Love You, America! Just treat yourself and watch the trailer. Silverman is attempting and, from what I can tell, succeeding at finding common ground in a divisive country. Good for her! She is certainly living bravely and is finding her voice! Take a peek at her trailer.