How in-dependent are we?


With a  determined one-year-old starting to exert his independence in our home, the  subject is top-of-mind for me on a daily basis. He fluctuates wildly between  wanting to do things for himself, such as managing a spoon or opening a  container, and crying to be cuddled, fed, or played with. While he's in complete  dependence on his parents, he's reaching for what he can do for himself ... and  especially for those things he sees his older brother doing.

As I sit  writing this, I just realized too that I'm feeling completely independent myself  for the first time in several weeks. The boys are at their respective sitters,  and I'm alone and loving it! No one is depending on me for anything at  this very moment, and it's extremely liberating for me!

So what is  personal independence anyway? I think its being free of others depending on you,  as well as being free to make your own choices, decisions, and mistakes.  Independence often includes the idea of self-reliance, which is a tricky  term in my book. When you feel truly self-reliant, what are you actually  depending on? Your intelligence, physical body, emotional makeup, and faith?  What about friends, partners, family, and God? I see it as a far-reaching web  that has you at the center, with widening strands of often intangible yet  vital pieces and people that support who and what you are.

On the  tangible side of the coin, things are perhaps more obvious but rarely  thought about. It seems that the more 'advanced' we become as humans, the more  dependent we actually become on each other, while living all the more  disparately. As a developed nation, we depend on other people (and often  countries) for food, fuel, communication, technology, sanitation, medicine,  transportation, and so on ... the web of supply and demand is becoming truly  ubiquitous. The more developed of a nation we are, the more dependent we  become.

Before the  talk of figurative and tangible webs becomes tangled, my point is simple. We  are all dependent in some way on many things ... and it's good to know who and  what they are. They're the anchors of our web, if you will ... the things we  count on to remain constant and immovable. For me, I'd be floundering without  the love of God and family, my two biggest anchors. If our anchors do move, we  have to suddenly shift everything around (a very painful process), and likely  wake up to the fact that we're not as independent as we thought we were.

Recognizing the things we depend on is good, and nurturing the healthy  ones wise, without waiting to be "stranded on a desert island" to figure it  all out. When I focus on it I know which dependencies enrich and expand my life  (like my kids), and which ones limit me (like my e-mail addiction), and keeping  them in that perspective is a daily challenge!