I’ve been thinking a lot about this word and its many definitions over the past week. How can anything really be independent? I can’t think of a single thing that is not dependent on something else. Can you?
Even the most self-sustaining human being, top of the food chain, master of his own universe is dependent upon oxygen and hydrogen for survival. The Earth, this giant vibrant spinning rock that sustains us all, relies on the atmosphere and precipitation to nourish it and help it flourish. Every thing that exists is only as good as its individual parts.
So what is this independence that we’re celebrating with skies ablaze and plumes of hamburger-and-hotdog scented smoke rising from gas grills all across the nation?
Animals, plants, atmospheric conditions, these things are pretty well surrendered to their needs and capabilities. They don’t question or classify their lot in life. It’s a rare occasion that my dog or cat will turn away food. Very few plants I’ve known have tried to be independent of their gardens. The sky and wind don’t hold themselves in, they gush forth touching everything else.
We humans, however, take great pride in our ability to be separate from things. We’re patriotic, family-oriented, independent thinkers who do our best to be self-sufficient. But who are we kidding? Countries exchange with one another and always have, families need other families to propagate themselves and even the most genius of independent thinkers just gives himself a headache without a good listener.
Interdependence, for me, is much easier to see, though it’s not the sort of thing people honor with barbecues and fireworks. There’s no holiday for this. No one ever throws a party when they need to borrow money or ask for help. We don’t take a national day of rest from work to celebrate the existence of our breath or water.
Those who practice yoga learn to lean into our interconnection and rejoice in it. We find on our mats the opportunity to drop the distractions of the comparative mind and unite ourselves with what is real. We surrender ourselves to life, like trees and air. We discover our union with each other as humans, living energy and light. First, we connect with those faces on the other mats across from ours, but over time we come to find connection in our every interaction with all forms of life. Paradoxically, it’s only in this state of union that I could believe in such a thing as independence.
We all have the freedom to intend our next thought, word, step. We get to choose what we connect with and what we don’t. Sure, we could forgo this inherent right and go through life haphazardly, indifferent toward how our actions will affect the whole thread of existence leading from and back to us. This, however, in the larger scheme of things, is not freedom but a sort of self-inflicted slavery. Real freedom comes from choosing correctly. In every instance, we all have the choice to leave behind our good vibration instead of a dirty footprint. With one thread you can uplift or unravel a tapestry.
Happy Independence Day. Celebrate your choice.