Independence. In dependence. In a state of depending. Needing others. Enmeshed in a web of humanity. Needing others. Needing others.. Needing others…
Not a common definition of independence, that’s for sure. Fortunately, the “common definition” of independence is like most of the rest of the decaying carcass of old reality all around us, at best a lie and at worst an insidious disinformation meme that keeps us looking outside of our immediate surroundings–friends, family, and community–toward large institutions for support and sustenance.
Rugged independents drive Ford.
When you’re too tough to rely on others, you smoke Marlboro.
Independent housewives shop at Target.
For those on the opposite extreme… independent families chop their own wood (and are thus reliant on trees), grow their own food (and are thus reliant on seeds, microbes, water, and the sun) and live off the grid (and are thus dependent on Chinese slave labor to produce their solar panels and/or windmills).
Both extremes, as Lao Tzu has tried to tell us for like 9 million years, ignore the actual reality. We are in dependence of those around us.
And it’s ok.
I have spent a long time now running away from this fact, only to run square back into it wherever I go. It feels like some kind of psychedelic house of mirrors that won’t leave me alone. So someone starts feeling like I am too dependent on them so I run away towards freedom to show them that I’m not and wind up too dependent on someone else. Over and over, round and round we go, as the wheel of fate churns, offering me up the possibility of liberation each time. If I would only slow down enough to just look someone in the eye and say thank you. Thank you for letting me be dependent on you. Letting go of my need to be tough and cool and rugged and above it and instead be vulnerable and open and honest about the situation. The real situation. That I am dependent on others.
And it’s ok.
I think this one comes at us a lot from all of the distortions in the maturation process. You come in completely dependent and slowly but surely ween yourself off of your parents and are given the message to go make it on your own: get a job, a car, a house, and a spouse, and do it on your own.
But then the reality is never like that. When you get a job, there is another human being who is giving you both the job and the money that comes along with it which allows you to buy the car which was made by another person and then necessitates creating a relationship with a mechanic who can keep it in top shape. Basically, it’s relationships and dependence all the way down.
The trendy way to describe this is interdependence. I have chosen to not frame it as such very deliberately. I have found in my own life and in my experiences of many I meet that the interdependence meme gets real abstract real fast and gets lost in all this woo-woo Gaia-is-all-one-with-the-fairies fogginess. It’s like you’ve gotta hit rock bottom. Before you can be interdependent, you first have to admit you’re dependent.
Hi, my name is Otis Funkmeyer and I’m dependent. Lately, I’ve been dependent on my wife Jenny, my father Steve, my mom Donna, Kristin, Pete, and the gang in Ashland; my Maine friends Jeremy, RJ, Chris, Jess, and Kris; my Bay Area friends Rachel, Garrett, Rebecca, and Rebecca; my Bay Area family Lynn, Adria, Terri, Gigi, and Maraya; and pretty soon I will move along and be dependent on Binah and Onedoorland in Portland.
Thank you. All of you.
The biggest anxieties in my life have been around housing and money and the fear that I will have none of either. I tend to live my life way out on the edge and usually enjoy the dance of synchronicity that brings me where I need to be, yet I do occasionally bite off more than I can chew and freak out. The freaking out never amounts to anything, as 100% of the time things work out orders of magnitude better than my wildest dreams, yet there it is, as a lived experience.
In my attempt to bring greater and greater joy and ease and ever-diminishing pain and anxiety into my life, I have had to look at this, ever-deeper, and look at where all of this comes from. When I did my ego negotiation, my ego reported that it wants me to start figuring out where I’m going to stay at least 4 days before I leave. At first, this was very discomforting because it makes me feel like I’m not “living on the edge” enough. What room does that much planning (and yes, I’m aware it’s ironic to call 4 days “that much”) leave for synchronicity and magic. And yet I couldn’t deny that the anxiety I experience when I don’t plan is super intense, almost debilitating, and is something I’ve been navigating for some time now.
With this negotiation complete, I looked at what it would mean for me to do that. I was forced to look at my resistance. And what I discovered was a fear of admitting dependence. The planning and getting things clear and organized forces me to acknowledge my dependence on a specific person. When I just “leave it up to the universe” and don’t plan at all, I get to keep the illusion that I don’t need anyone because I could always just pack up and leave. I don’t need you–I just happen to be here for now. I get the illusion of not needing people at the cost of constant anxiety.
When I actually sink into needing people, when I thank them, honor them, and remain conscious of the debt of gratitude I owe them, I feel my muscles relax and my tension dissipate. I feel able to ask the questions that always seemed too un-rugged to ask before: Hey, if I don’t have anywhere to go, could I stay with you? Hey, I’m not sure how I’m gonna get from A to B, can you help me out?
These are humbling questions for an egomaniac like myself. To admit that I’m not so special that I don’t need people. To accept that everything good that has ever happened in my life has come because of and through others. To realize that this is never going to stop.
And it’s ok.
When I do that, I realize all of the gifts I have to share. All of the joy and magic and adventure that people repeatedly report I bring to their lives. All of the psychic gifts that I am more and more being requested to offer as my own gift. And at a more basic level, how fun it can be for others to have a break from routine and have a traveling street performer / Galactic Activator pass through their lives.
And I see that when I let go of crazy ideas about keeping score as to who owes who and as my dad would say just do what’s right, it all works out. I get effortlessly transported from beautiful situation to beautiful situation, I get to practice and perform, I have wonderful and challenging experiences, and I am allowed to continue living the life of my dreams, for the rest of eternity.
In exchange, all I had to do was to really accept my dependence on all of you.
And that it’s ok.
A Final Note
As I read through this, it is clear that I would be remiss to not make a point of noting the debt of gratitude I owe to my wife Jenny Funkmeyer. Many times I have tried to get out of accepting my dependence on her, always desperately attempting to avoid becoming enmeshed. And many times I have returned, dependent as ever. Well, my dear Jenny, here and now I accept that I am enmeshed with you, for all eternity, dancing and lilaing through the universe, meeting over and over again in Montauk, and I finally realize after all these lives and all these millennia that I have always needed you, I have always depended on you, and that you have always been there for me. And I thank you. From the depths of my soul. I love you my queen.