I really value my independence. I like being self-motivated, self-organised, self-reliant; and for many years, I have clung to this image of myself as positively independent to cover for the many ways in which I am unable to connect with people and struggle to trust them.
Of course, I am not really independent. I am – like all beings – part of the web of interbeing. Even as I write this, alone in my room, I am reliant on the previous and future work of other humans: who created the internet and my laptop, programmed wordpress and ubuntu, made keyboards and beds and pillows and all the other things in my room, who grew the food I ate last night and the breakfast I will make soon. I will ‘make my own’ breakfast, but I didn’t grow the rhubarb or the oats or the grapes or the soya or the nuts; I didn’t make the museli or the soy milk; I didn’t even, for the most part, carry things home from the shop, due to the wonders of internet ordering.
Beyond the human, I rely on plants and animals – even as a vegan, I am aware that animals die in the production of my food. I rely on the rain and the sun, the soil of the earth and the magic of photosynthesis.
My illusion of independence is important to me, though. I don’t mind my interbeing with ‘nature’ so much, and I am not worried about relying on God/Gaia/goodness. I object to having to trust humans, though! My housemate has been cooking for us – we’ve have this system for almost two years now, and you’d think I’d be used to it. But I need to eat at the right times, and I still find it stressful, physically and mentally, when I’m not sure what’s happening, when I don’t know when the food will arrive, and when the food doesn’t meet my needs – often in ways too petty to discuss, and yet noticeable over the long term. I try and work with it, and I am genuinely grateful for it, both because it is better to share meals (cheaper, more efficient, etc.) and because sometimes (hello there CFS) I can’t cook for myself, but actually I am looking forward to living as only one human in a one-person flat.
I feel like I will regain a measure of control which I have lost, a level of ‘independence’. At the very least, the illusion of independence offers me a temporary break from comparisons with others, a space in which my sleeping patterns, eating habits, lack of energy, and other physical and social oddities can be ignored because they’re ‘just how I am’ and not hurdles to be overcome in order to participate in normal life.