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!