As an era of my life closes, a new one begins in tandem with the collective. 20 years of my life are coming to a head, and it is time to reflect upon the lessons I’ve encountered through my many experiences thus far. Although young and inevitably naive to what I may discover about the world around me as I continue to age, it is never too early – nor too late – to extract sweetness from the fruits of knowledge that life has brought to me.
During these strange times of quarantine and profound isolation, my hope is for this series of life lessons to be a guide, a comfort, a tool of awareness. Even if for only one individual. If you, the reader, decide to peruse the content of this particular sequence of information at a later date and are visiting this page from the future, my intention is the same.
Although the order of these lessons has been pre-planned, I find it extremely timely to be sharing this knowledge in the arrangement I have fashioned it in. In light of our amplified separation during the COVID-19 outbreak, when could it be better to remember the inherent connection between all living things?
The first thing that I’ve learned is the value of interdependence and how utterly intrinsic it is every facet of life, especially the facet of life that is human society.
We live in a world where we’re primarily taught one of two things when it comes to people and how we should or should not relate to one another. Either we’re taught that we can’t get anything from others, and that we must strive to fulfill all of our needs and desires independently, or we are taught to be entirely dependent, expecting to receive all gratification from that of others.
While I often hear words like dependence, co-dependence, and independence used when speaking of humans and our relation or lack thereof to each other, I seldom hear the word interdependence used. In fact, I’m usually the one to introduce it to a conversation. I first heard of the word from Teal Swan, a YouTuber, Author, Public Speaker, and self-proclaimed Personal Transformation Revolutionary. While I am sure there are multiple videos of hers stressing the importance of interdependence and connection, I will link the one I think most relates to the value of interdependence below.
The concept of interdependence can be a little difficult to grasp, especially for those of us who reside in the Western World, because we have a tendency to live inside of our own, frankly, narcissistic bubbles of reality. We may go about our lives thinking we are doing everything for ourselves, by ourselves, without realizing that each and every one of us practices interdependence every single day.
For instance, we may think to ourselves “I’m going to take this nail and hammer of my own accord, along with this piece of art that I bought with my own money and I don’t want or need anybody to assist me with it”. While yes, technically, we have the ability to literally hang up said piece of art independent of another human being physically present with us, we are completely overlooking the questions that beg to be asked. Questions like “Who made that hammer? Who made that nail? Who created that piece of art?”, and if you created the piece yourself, who created the tools which allowed you to create it? Even if the materials were made by a machine, ultimately it was another human being who created the machine and programmed it to produce the materials it now makes for us.
In order to hone in this somewhat of a grand concept, here is a bulleted list of practical ways to incorporate this lesson into your life:
- Recognize the inherent connection between all things, especially human beings – simply become conscious of the interdependence that already exists within the world.
- Make it a point to take steps towards enhancing and increasing the amount of interdependence in your life, e.g., joining any sort of community, being honest about your needs and finding other human beings who enjoy meeting those needs, or joining up with others to help those who are in need. There are really endless ways to do this, get creative!
- Admit to yourself that you can’t do everything alone, and realize that forcing yourself to be more independent than you’d actually like to be isn’t a virtue or something to take pride in.
- When in doubt, remind yourself “I can do it all, but I can’t do it all alone”. (Nor, should you want to!)
Before we part ways, I want to take a moment to clarify a few things.
First, I want to shed light on the fact that, currently, we do live in a world where becoming independent is valid and even vital to our survival at times. I am not undermining the importance of independence, nor am I saying it is all bad. However, there is a difference between autonomy and independence, even if only in an argument of semantics. This distinction is another idea I’ve received from Teal Swan’s teachings. Essentially, the distinction is between the self-agency that autonomy represents and of separation, the all-too-often message of independence. While it is possible to maintain a sense of self while simultaneously depending on another, you will find it difficult to find a group to belong to if you insist on being separate from it. Remember, your idea of self can only exist when there is an other to relate to.
Secondly, it must be said that there is absolutely nothing wrong with depending on another human being for any need, whether it be emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual. We must take the stigma off the idea of “dependence”, and stop making “need” a dirty word. That is, if we wish for our quality of life to be more than mediocre. To me, there are simply the right people to depend on for the right needs, the right people to depend on for the wrong needs, and sometimes the wrong people to depend on period. If that was confusing, all this means is that even the people who are right for your life won’t always be right for all of your needs, and it’s up to us to take the initiative of finding the perfect place for every individual in our lives.
Lastly, I want to stress that interdependence has nothing to do with co-dependence, and neither does dependence within itself. Co-dependence is a toxic relationship pattern that occurs when unhealthy attachment styles meet and form a bond. Interdependence, in my eyes, is the meeting of independence and dependence, the integration of both me and you, and what we can do together to create a more harmonious existence.
Independece (Nine of Pentacles), Dependence (Six of Pentacles),
Co-Dependence (Five of Pentacles), Interdependence (Three of Pentacles)
All My Love,