The Illusion of Independence
This is not the Wild, Wild, West. Very few people live in a Little House on the Prairie. There are no “self-made” men or women, and life is about more than financial success. These are things I am asking you to consider in your mind before you read further.
We all want to believe that we have something of worth to offer others. Whether it is money, experience, time, or some type of good or service, we tend to determine our worth on what we have, rather than who we are. What you and I are, is not who we are. It really is that simple.
Not only from a spiritual standpoint, but also from a material point of view, nothing we have accomplished, has been without the aid of “others”. It is true that the vegetables we consume could not grow without the Source of all life, breathing life, into the plants. Yes, we rely on the divine. To think that because we earned a wage and were able to purchase food makes us independent, or self sustaining, is a great misconception.
We do not owe another debt to the divine, or the farmer, or the trucker that hauled them. There is nothing more to pay to the grocer that arranged for the vegetables to be available in our hometown. Our economic system has rewarded the produce manager, and the electric company that helped keep the produce refrigerated. It has even taken care of the inventor of the equipment used. But we still do owe a debt (of sorts).
The only thing missing with regard to the debt we owe, is our gratitude. Paying a bill at the end of a line in a grocery store is easy. Being grateful for everyone involved in our being able to purchase what we need, is impossible. We simply cannot fathom the amount of people and circumstances that have come together to create what we need, and what is offered so conveniently.
For those that say, “what about those without food?”
It is so easy to help. The same technology that allows us to purchase food at such low prices, and in such an easy way, also affords the opportunity for food to be carried to those that are hungry. But here again, we must do it with gratitude, because it is so easy to help due to the work of so many. Whether we help others or do not is not the question. Whether we do what we do with the understanding that we are unable to do what we do on our own? That is the only question.
If you are reading this, you have available the resources to find a way to help others if you are inclined.
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” – Kris Kristofferson, Me and Bobby McGee.
One of the best lines ever written in a modern song. Where I live, we want to celebrate freedom… and independence… and how great we are, or will be, or whatever… I honest to God cannot keep up with the rhetoric.
Independence and freedom are impossible. If we were truly independent or free from all things, we might very well ascend into other realms. There are things that anchor us to this world. They are either the weight of what we perceive to be burdensome in life, or they are the connections we have to others, the earth, or our experience. And that is alright.
I love the Buddha and what he taught. I love his followers and I really dig what the Dalai Lama says. But what the Dalai Lama teaches in public is that we should show compassion and kindness to others. There is little talk about becoming unattached to the world and that is just fine with me.
We came to this earth for a reason. There is a purpose for each of us. We came to this earth, through an earthly vessel (our mother), and this negates every argument that we might be “self-made”, regardless of our accomplishments. We need to live our purpose, and be attached to it in some ways, because that is what makes it worthwhile to stick around.
To those that had parents who did not live up to what might have been expected, thank them and move on. For those that have had trouble in life, please do not tell the sad stories, especially the ones that include words like, “they did”, “if only”, “should have”. We have made it this far, that is all we need to know.
We cannot comprehend how a carrot got to our plate and we cannot comprehend what it took to get us here. The carrot is here and we are here. This is enough. It is only for us to acknowledge the effort and enjoy our dinner. In the same way, it is only for use our experience and enjoy our lives.
Independence is not a badge of honor. I grew up near the Appalachian mountains. We are proud and we do not want to rely on anyone.
“I ain’t askin’ nobody for nothin’, if I can’t get it on my own. If you don’t like the way I’m livin’, just leave this long-haired country boy alone” – Charlie Daniels, Long Haired Country Boy.
Another great lyric from another country song (I like a lot of different music). But, here’s the rub. If we do not ask others for anything, we deny them the blessing of their helping. If we think all we have is only because of what we have done, we miss the point of every religious leader worth hearing.
In those Appalachian mountains I speak of, there were tight nit families that fought with each other over nearly anything. Often for only the sake of fighting, as they had forgotten what the feuds were about in the beginning.
They were, however, half way there. Family meant everything. Romeo and Juliet played on the same theme. By half way there, I mean this.
Family is all that matters. We are all family. Every last one of us.
The guy that pissed you off in traffic. The rude waitress that did not get you a refill on your free water in time. Everyone. The children dying because they needed a $0.30 medication? Those without clean water? Yep… you guessed it. They are your family too. And family is everything.
And the teacher that taught you how to write in any language is your family. The man that handed out bubble gum at your place of worship, and the woman you never met, who counselled your garbage man or woman not to give up and to keep going. They are your family too. We should be grateful for everyone. Whether they teach us a lesson we need to learn, or provide an opportunity to help or be helped, we are grateful for everyone.
Independence is an illusion. Gratitude is the cement that holds everything together.
In some crazy way, though I may have never met you, you are my family. And I say this without hesitation, if there is anything I might help you with, use the contact form.