We all want it right? It’s good for us, we encourage it in our children, it’s a sign of good things, maturity and strength.

So what happens when it gets in the way?

We see it with young children, stubborn old people etc. But voilà here it is, in the way, big time, for us trying to settle in Belgium.

We can get by with a lot of stuff, eating, driving ( one of us for now), catching public transport etc. But come the little things like instruction manuals, rubbish, local rules and regulations, how to this , how to that, they suddenly become big – ugly big.

And so I’m learning how to not have control, to lean on others, to not know, to seem, and be, ignorant. It’s humbling, uncomfortable and it’s little steps, teeny weeny steps.

And in some ways that is a Belgian thing – teeny weeny steps, patience, procrastination or plodding? I cant decide which, perhaps it’s all three in different measures at different times and for different reasons.

Likewise I need to learn to be dependent, in different measures at different times and for different reasons.

There are joys hidden in dependence.

The generosity of others.
Including others
Valuing others
Learning new things
Learning things you didn’t ask about
Understanding different views and cultures

I enjoy trying to understand the why and at the same time trying to let go of needing to know why, when it can just get in the way. What is is.

And ‘what it is’ can often inform and enlighten, what drives a culture, the evolution of political systems, the way societies adapt to their environment – climate, landscape, neighbours, vegetation etc.

And so for someone who hated history,  I now enjoy the riddle and the ride; for someone who was mystified with the reasons to learn French, I now appreciate the little I know and that I have at least some alternative vocabulary; and for someone who has spent 50 years fighting to be independent, i am now looking for the joy of needing others to help me survive like never before.

And  at the heart of this is my not yet 3 year old daughter who treats every day like it’s another Xmas and celebrates the warmth of others and her fierce independence in equal quantities.

So I thank her and her bigger sister who looks out for all of us at the same time and who has been jolted from independence to dependence and isolation to starting to find a balance in all of these, and i’ m sure she’ll beat me there and do it with far more grace than I am currently managing.

Love life, love others, learn to share, ask to be cared for and care for others. We all need these skills, too much independence is surely a route to isolation and insanity, I know this now.



4 thoughts on “Independence

  1. Good read Richard. As someone who also valued my independence, I see parallels with my stay in hospital. I had to learn to accept the help of family, friends, and people I had never even met before. It certainly makes you step outside your comfort zone but you become a better person because of it.

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