avoidance · community · connection · disconnection · equanimity · fear · isolation · love · relationships · synchronicity

Independence

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I was driving down to San Jose for the Queen concert the
other night by myself. I was meeting my friends who were coming from the city,
and we decided it was more time efficient if I drove from the East Bay myself.
I drove in traffic, behind, in front of, and next to other
people driving by themselves. No carpool lane for us. And I reflected on how in
this age of disconnection, where people seem to be lamenting the loss of
connection, community, and interdependence, we certainly do like to be alone a
lot.
Or, perhaps “like” is a strong word. We’re enabled in being alone a lot.
I live in a studio apartment alone with my cat. I drive
alone to work because public transportation to my job is not feasible. I can
spend entire days not connecting with another human being. Without hugging
another human being.
And then, like yesterday, I run into one of these human
beings at the farmer’s market, that I went to alone, and get a surprise hug and
get to share a moment of catch-up and a smile. A farmer’s market where I
finally know the bread vendor by name and he knows mine, so we can say hello
properly after a year of my buying the same whole wheat. Where I ran into one of
the families from my work and spoke with her and her son, who was running circles around a
tree again and again, asking me between breaths what I was doing there.
I was invited to go to dinner and the movies last night with two
girlfriends. I could have said, No, I have to pack for my camping trip, which
is so totally true, and imminent right now. And I literally asked myself which
was more important: going to the grocery store before it closed to get organic meat,
or spending time with a woman who’s moving to Nashville in two weeks.
I chose the friends. And I’ll be going to the store once it
opens before we hit the road.
Which is another one of these connection moves I made
recently. An awareness that I had recently: I miss hanging out with groups of
folks. I am great one-on-one with
people. I can talk and gab and get deep. But there’s something for me about
being with a few people that ignites a different side of my personality. I come
alive in a different way. A) it’s usually less intense and deep conversation
when it’s more than one person. But not always. I just like groups of folks.
I’m excellent at big and small talk, and I like people. –Well, some of them,
anyway!
So, I’m at the part in my healing work where I’m to make
amends in relationships that need mending. And this is one of them: recognizing
that I have a deficiency in my social life that affects my joy. And then doing
something about it.
Because of this awareness, I organized this camping trip.
Because of this desire to be with folks,
I am joining some of them to see
The Goonies for $5 movie night at the Paramount next week, and I
asked if we wanted to have dinner beforehand, and I made that reservation for us.
Because, independence is appropriate, as far as it goes. Not
needing people to do for me that which I can do for myself is independence. Not
needing someone to constantly bail me out financially is independence. Not depending on a substance to
make me feel normal or different or a version of “better” that is unattainable,
is independence.
But when it comes to human relationships, I like to strive
(these days, at least) for interdependence.
Not co-dependence, which is
not
the opposite of independence, by the way. But equanimity – a word I only
learned a few years ago, but has been a soft murmur in the back of my head
since then. To me, equanimity means not being emotionally tossed around by
others, and not tossing them around either. It means having boundaries for
myself and allowing others to have theirs. It means
creating, actively trying to build relationships with people
on a basis of trust, mutuality, empathy and shared values.
This is not always easy. In fact, it can get right messy,
and it has, for me in many of them, as we crawl our way out of strict
independence or co-dependence into interdependence. Relationships have
suffered; some have been lost, and others have been strengthened exponentially.
It takes work to give up independence, or, as I’m using it,
isolation.
For right now, I can claim independence from my need to
isolate. Because I am learning how to show up honestly, with boundaries and
without iron walls or punishing.
If I can do that, then there’s no reason not to be in community.
Happy Freedom from Bondage Day, Kids!! – Whatever that looks
like to you. 

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