I broke my wrist a couple years ago and learned a lot about independence. I couldn’t tie my shoes or buckle my belt. The nerve blocker I got for my surgery completely paralyzed my arm. I was up all night for fear that I would roll over and break it clean off. I know that’s irrational but I was on drugs. The parts of my body that usually work quietly in a sort of mutual exchange with all the other parts… didn’t. All my internal collaborations had to adapt while healing took place. My wrist was not and never has been independent. Neither am I. Or you. Or any of us.
But this is good news. It means the limits of one human’s mental, emotional, and physical capacity are not limited to the boundaries of their brain, heart, and body. We can, should, and do continually borrow from those we are in relationship with. Like a bicep borrows from the other muscles, tendons, and bones of the arm, shoulder, and back to function at its highest capacity - we borrow from each other to offer our best. We are individuals but we are inTERdependent.
This is not just a human thing. It is an everything in the universe thing. Atoms, molecules, cells, bodies, ecosystems, and solar systems. Homosapiens exist because of social integration. When we disconnect, we decay on every level. “Loneliness is one of the most toxic environmental risk factors that we’re aware of in terms of all-cause mortality” (S Cole et al., 2015). This suggests that our culture’s over-valuation of independence is the greatest threat to our individual and communal health. And we know this whether we like it or not. It is why we like to celebrate independence day by gathering together with the people we love.
I write in a geeky, sciency, hopefully poetic way about belonging, storytelling, community building, deconstruction and construction,