the simple art of interdependence

Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others' actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others' activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others. - Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama  

 We've moved often.   It's not possible, especially when you are changing coastlines or countries and restoring old houses in foreign lands, to know everything you need to know from the get go. Every place has its own set of rules to master, its own set of cultural mores to internalize.   Many times you are left to figure things out and you make mistakes, pure and simple, out of not quite grasping how things actually work.

It's humbling to be a fully functioning adult and to not understand how things work.  You think it's one way but it's completely different.  It doesn't matter what it is.  It can be a small thing, like buying vegetables, or a big thing, like registering the deed to your home.  You find yourself asking," Am I doing this right?  Am I making a mistake?  Will something bad happen to me if I do it wrong?" The result is, if it continues for too long, that you feel insecure and fragile and start to question everything.  You start to suffer from the side effects of trying to be too independent.

We all like to feel on firm footing while living our daily lives. We want to know that we can do what we need to do on our own.  But sometimes we can't.  Sometimes, the last thing we can do is forge ahead alone.  And in reality, that's ok, because human beings were not meant to be independent, like our culture force feeds down our gullets.  Human beings, like all living things, were instead meant to be interdependent.



Everything we do extends from something we learned from someone else.  I'm a potter.  I work independently.  But truth be told, the things I've learned in my craft, the really creative things, are things that I have learned through suggestions from others.  I can't develop as an artist without inspiration.  It's not possible.



This bed and breakfast is an interplay of different things.  It's design ideas absorbed from the most talented people I know and food recipes from great cooks.  It's plates from my studio that I made and wine that Micha has hand chosen.  This B&B, however, more than anything, is guests who understand, who come here and exhale, who want to be part of a certain type of cultural immersion.  When all those factors work together, as they sometimes do, it is something like an interdependent symphony.





If I go to my favorite winery I might come home with a gift of a bushel of tomatoes.  I can open my gate and find a carton of peaches, picked by my neighbors.   For the first time ever, I  know the names of the people on my street, how their children are, and how their parents are doing.  Italians are naturals at interdependence.  This is probably one of the nicest things about living here.  Anonymity is foreign in the Italian country side where everyone is interdependent on everyone else for just about everything, from tool sharing to snow plowing to wood cutting to tree trimming.

We are in the most busy part of our season, when the gardens are flush with gorgeous fruits and vegetables and the guests are rolling up the hill one car after the other.  The interdependence of things in Italy will reveal itself once more in a few weeks when the grapes, already sweet, will be harvested and pressed.  People come here wanting to be part of the vendemmia, and I understand why, I think.  They want to be part of something beautiful - working with others to create a product that's full of honor and grace and history.  They want to experience interdependency Italian style.


Everything we are is the result of something that was given to us by someone else.  We have nothing intrinsic that hasn't come from someone else.  We would do well to understand the importance of others in our lives, and to learn to trust more.  It is in trusting that we actually become more trustworthy, more vulnerable, more whole-hearted.  By admitting our fragility we confirm our humanity and the humanity of those around us.  We get really huge things when we do this.  We get open doors, people willing to help us and being nice to us, and we get to grow and learn and realize our own dreams.

Not bad when you think about it, right?