(In)dependent

I want to warn everyone upfront.  This isn´t really a blog about microfinance or Guatemala or food or travel really.  It´s a simple realization of a lesson that I have been learning over the last three months.

On my way back from El Salvador last weekend, the movie Pursuit of Happyness came on (in Spanish of course) on the bus.  This was the second time I have seen it, and for some reason what stuck with me the most was how the movie was divided. For those who haven´t seen it in a while, the narrative would stop and then the Spanish Will Smith would say “And this part of my life I call…”  Which got me thinking.  About two things: (1) What would I put in that ellipsis? and (2) What was I looking, when I first started out, to call this chapter in my life and could I define it as that?

Recently I read, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller (If you haven´t yet picked it up, I just made it super easy to go to Amazon and do so).  The overlying philosophy is that life is a story: one that we are constantly writing and have to “edit” in a sense to make sure that the story we are writing is a good one.  So, I was thinking about my story over the past three months in terms of defining my life like that Spanish Will Smith did with his.  And for some reason, what I wrote down was “Learning to be Dependent”.

This might sound strange. Heck, it sounds strange to me.  I consider myself a very independent person.  I have no problem spending time alone and speaking of projects or getting things done, I would  much rather just do the whole thing myself than rely on someone else.  When I travel, this is exaggerated.  I need to plan the trip, or be the one asking for directions or doing the negotiating over the price of the room.  I almost prefer to take a bus by myself than have someone go out of their way to drive me.

That´s why, I suppose, I wrote “Learning to Be Dependent”.  Although I am more than capable of doing all of this on my own, it has been good to rely on those around me that extend a helping hand.  In the city, I can´t do what I usually do: hop on a bus to get what I need, I have to accept and ask for the help of those around me.  Out of many examples, one would be this past weekend when I intended on taking a bus out to Suchitepequez to visit someone.  When the executive director offered to take me, I was thinking that I don´t need you to help me, I can do this alone, but really going with someone turned  out to make the day a lot easier and more fun.

Maybe this isn´t the most potent example (and I have a lot more), but its a process. A process of figuring out the people to rely on and then allowing them to help you as you help them.  It´s a process of writing a good story.  When you do stuff independently, you lack your supporting characters: the stuff that makes your story interesting.  This co-dependence between humans is what makes life beautiful (and it is even more so when it is offered and received when you are in need by those that don´t know you “like your friends do”).  To quote Krakauer, “Happiness is only real when shared”, and its true.

As for the second question, I´m still figuring that out, but I´m depending on someone a lot greater than myself to reveal that one.

4 thoughts on “(In)dependent

  1. I just read your entry at 1:30 am while struggling to come up with my own brilliant writing (granted its for a Literature seminar but nevertheless…). Bravo to yours for the night! It’s actually worth reading. Mine will just have to take the back seat today:) Miss you!

  2. Very well written post. I’ve experienced similar thoughts here in Tajikistan, where the extent of my dependence on other people comes as a daily reminder. I have regularly been the beneficiary of the kindness of strangers, and as you said — the co-dependence is beautiful (once you get over the initial bristling of wanting to do it yourself). Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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