By Ashley Futral Chapman.
What is so wrong with interdependence anyway?
In social situations, I find both women and men saying things like, “Yeah, I travel a lot, but it’s OK because we’re both so independent.”
Wearing the statement like a badge of pride. As if the primary goal in life is to arrange yourself so that you never need anybody. This new age wisdom, like giving birth lying on your back, completely supersedes our inherent tendencies as communal animals.
Those who live in total isolation are called hermits. Most of us cannot identify with their self-inflicted eschewal. The reason we cannot relate is because it is against our biological intuition to live this way.
There are survival advantages to living communally, which is why we tolerate our neighbors even though their grass grows too high.
We tolerate our coworkers even though they gossip too much. We tolerate our families even though they can be exasperating, leaving you with the feeling that — based on your latest conversation — they still do not know who you are, even after 30 years!
It is not that we do not have a choice in having neighbors, coworkers or family.
We could choose to leave any time we wanted, given the right-sized cojones. But most of us do not. We do not because of the advantages of having neighbors, coworkers and family around, despite their shortcomings (or… ahem… ours).
So why the push for independence?
Ren and I live on our sailboat for months at a time with only one real constant — each other. Interdependence is a very moderate word to use to describe such an interlaced relationship, crocheted together by love, respect, familiarity, goals, values, interests, mutual reliance, vulnerability, and embroidered now with a child.
Sometimes, when the transmission is slipping, the port side stanchion is leaking and we are approaching a dock with 20 knots of wind, I suddenly feel weak, conquerable, defenseless.
I suck up my pride and control the societal ingraining for complete independence that still harbors in me, and ask Ren as the captain of Nila Girl (our ship), “What is my job now, Captain?”
He barks a few orders and I take them, not allowing myself to become demoralized by his tone or curtness. It is not the time for candy coatings. It is not the time to contend over who the leader is. There can be only one leader in this situation and it is okay that it is not me this time.
Because of our unspoken acceptance of our interdependence, we move through the wind, towards the dock, without transmission and with port side leakage in complete solidarity like the body of a pregnant woman. She does not have to assign tasks to her organs and systems in order for the body to incubate and grow a baby. The body acts in divine synchronicity to produce a life she could not produce of her own accord.
Through our interdependence, we adventure and safely return home knowing that we could not do it without the other, physically or emotionally. We adventure and return home with a stronger and healthier relationship, mind and body because of our willingness to surrender completely to each other, becoming a third entity. One that is not wholly Ren or me but us, an interdependent and well-oiled machine.
So what is so wrong with interdependence anyway?
I challenge any independent soul to live fully, completely and happily, while being utterly alone.
Ashley Futral Chapman is not a professional writer, though she would like to be one, so that she could get rich — a goal that has eluded her so far. In the meantime, she enjoys freediving — the art of diving down as deep as you can go under the ocean on one breath of air. She is a professional at this, and has earned three world records and 10 national records in the esoteric sport. When she is on the surface, gasping for breath, she also enjoys sailing with her husband on their 35′ Pearson throughout the Caribbean for six to seven months at a time, freediving — both training and teaching, living life in a way where they don’t require much and have an abundance of free time to spend together, while expecting their first child. Read more about freediving through her blog at Evolvefreediving.com and more about life aboard Nila Girl through her blog at Nilagirl.com.
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