Today I took my independent self rollerskating. Wearing clothes made by others, I drove a car made by others, fueled by petrol drilled by others in another country. I parked on a street and rolled down a path made and maintained by others. I had a bottle of city water from a tap that runs whenever I turn the handle, due to – you guessed it – the work of others.
I am not independent. I am interdependent.
My red Webster’s Dictionary (Ninth New Collegiate) defines independent as: not subject to control by others, self-governing; not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct; not requiring or relying on others.
Given my morning, I’d say I rely on others most of the time. I may not look to others for opinions or guidance (who am I kidding? I’m a voracious reader, constantly influenced by others’ stories and perspectives), but I definitely require others to help me get through the day.
Poppyseed bagel – who picked the poppies? gathered the seeds? Who milled the wheat and turned it into flour for the baker? Who milked the cow, made the cream cheese, packaged it, stocked it on a refrigerated shelf in my local grocery store?
Yeah. Independent, my ass.
Funnily enough, my dictionary doesn’t define interdependent. However, it’s happy to tell me that inter- means between, among, in the midst, reciprocal.
And that’s exactly what we are: in the midst. It’s a populated planet, and we’re surrounded, most of the time, by others.
We rely on each other, whether we know it or not. And that’s where inter- enters. Others rely on me, too. We’re all necessary in some way. Someone is waiting for this essay right now. Or these words that came to me the other night:
There’s no them