Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Fiction of Independence

Marissa, a single middle-aged career woman, had always been a loner. She’s a snob. She never needed anybody’s help and that’s the way she wanted to keep it. 

She never thought she’d end up in a place like a quarantine area. Her Covid-19 symptoms got worse and she’s forced to depend on the care and kindness of others. 

It dawned on me that, when brought to a basic reduced state, independence is fiction. It’s illusion. As life gets so hard or painful, we need connection to others to bind us to life.

We’re interdependent on the same boat. Everyone’s here for a reason.



Lewis Hyde, in “The Gift,” speaks of the value of this interdependence. He refers to it as gifts moving from one person to another or they lose their value.

Hyde maintains:  “Anything contained within a boundary must contain as well as its exhaustion ... The gift that is not used will be lost, while the one that is passed along remains abundant.”

In this experience that we have of the Coronavirus threat, we have opportunities to witness such transformations in people. 

There is, for instance, my observation of “sibling-like” interdependence and reciprocity among the frontliners, like hospital workers or relief volunteers, who worked closely together to save lives.

Knowing that their interdependent actions spell a difference protects them from depression and hopelessness. They’re assured, through it, that their lives continue to serve a purpose.

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