Happy Interdependence Week
I had a visit to our county fair this weekend, and after viewing with delight all the pickles and quilts and art and blue ribbon produce, I was thinking about writing this week’s letter on the simple pleasures of making and being in the world, how we are all makers and creators, or on the beauty of families of friends from every walk of life napping on blankets and picnicking on the lawn, listening to music, or dancing together. At the same time, the Ferris Wheel spins in the twilight. It was such a perfect and beautiful scene, and I hope you have a few moments like that this week.
But instead, the longer letter I wrote is on the spectrum of independence, how we believe we are related, and how that belief creates our world. Are we more inclined to go it alone, be overly entwined with others, or are we healthily independent?
Healthy independence is part of self-love and self-understanding and forms a solid base from which one can engage with others and the world around them. With healthy independence, we can function autonomously, without overreliance on others for our physical, emotional, or psychological needs. We can make decisions without consulting others. We’re not influenced unduly by the thoughts and actions of others.
But here's the catch. In our quest to be independent, we sometimes overshoot the mark. We sometimes land in this space where we're so set on doing everything ourselves that we feel isolated or won't ask for help, even when needed. This might be because we don't trust others to get it right or neglect our needs while we're too busy proving we can do it all.
Or maybe it's about keeping people at arm's length because we're worried that being close to someone means losing our independence- we can’t hold our own in the face of others’ needs. Healthy independence helps us set personal boundaries in tune with our needs and limitations.
And most importantly, healthy independence is rooted in interdependence, where we mutually depend on each other in a balanced way. Interdependence recognizes the interconnectedness of all beings, acknowledging that individuals can't thrive in complete isolation. It implies a mature, balanced give-and-take relationship, where individuals can stand independently but choose to work together for shared goals.
Personally, I see interdependence as the optimum state of human relationships, reflecting our inherent interconnectedness and our capacity to grow and evolve together. This is when we can stand on our own two feet but also acknowledge that we're part of a network of people who rely on each other.
Interdependence requires being healthily independent - only when you know your own worth and standing in your core power and truth can you easily flow in the community. It's about knowing when to fly solo and when to team up. On a personal level, this balance lets us build strong relationships without losing ourselves. In a group or society, it creates a vibe of mutual respect and collaboration, where everyone works together and celebrates what makes them unique.
If you know me, you probably can guess what comes next: the factual truth of our existence is that we are utterly and completely dependent on the life force that animates, surrounds, and nourishes us every day. We depend on air and breath, water and soil - and the hands of thousands, if not millions, to live our lives in modern culture. Let us awaken to this deep interconnectedness and live from the awareness of being deeply nested in the web. I believe that when we really feel that, there is no way to cause violence to others - or ourselves. No matter what the message of the nation-state, the culture, or the roles we were assigned by gender or race, or class at birth- this is the bigger truth. We are dependent on Earth, interdependent with each other and all of creation, and unique, independent sparks of consciousness with our own good work to do in this lifetime.
So as we navigate our own places of striking that interpersonal balance of independence and interdependence, let it be accompanied by the comfort and humility of knowing that we do nothing alone in all factual reality. These bodies belong as part of the earth, and we are never separate from creation.
So, this week I bring a little attention to independence and freedom, nestled in mutuality and respect. If this topic interests you, please read this chart on the characteristics of unhealthy dependence, healthy independence, and unhealthy independence on the website.