In my collegiate days, dependence used to be a dirty word. I hated relying on others, and delegation was as painful as a root canal. If I had to work on a group project, I always took the assignment that required the least amount of collaboration. Some of my favorite words included Autonomy, Independence, Self-sufficiency and Individualism.
However, I’ve done a lot in the intervening decade, and the shift that seems so sharp in comparison, has been gradual in retrospect. As I’ve struggled with illness, rejoiced in health, furthered my career, developed talents, traveled the world, struggled with loneliness, deepened friendships, endured singles wards, returned to family wards and come to grips with grey religious areas, I’ve come to see each day as a celebration of Interdependence.
Simply put, I’ve come to realize that interconnectedness is an essential part of life.
Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate this is by relating it to my career. I work as a registered nurse within the specialty of Pediatric Intensive Care. That’s right, I save children’s lives. And if it sounds like bragging, well, it is. I am the face that the patients and families see. The one who offers comfort and relief. The one who does the assessments and treatments. The one who gives all the medications and draws all the blood. The one who’s most readily available to answer questions. The one who advocates for them, and through whom they interface with the rest of the hospital.
However, I cannot do this alone. I rely on the strengths of a hundred other people within my unit and the hospital at large. I rely on my fellow nurses to give me auxiliary support, whether my patient is crashing, or I just need a hand with a tricky procedure. I rely on doctors of innumerable specialties to diagnose and prescribe treatments. I rely on the housekeeping staff to keep the unit clean and functional. Respiratory, occupational, speech, physical, speech and play therapists; social workers; dieticians; secretaries; insurance billers; fund raisers; hospital administrators; translators; security guards; researchers; etc etc … I need them all, and they need me.
Paradoxically, this interconnectedness requires more from me than just self-sufficiency. It requires that I know myself implicitly … my limitations and strengths, that I turn the former into the latter, and that I give generously of my dower. Our individual responsibility for humanity is awesome.
So, I’m taking more responsibility little by little. I was just called (well, actually I petitioned for it, but let’s not split hairs) as RS pianist. This means that I have to actually attend RS. And as the weeks go by, I find that I need these women around me … feminists, traditionalists, young, old, singletons, marrieds, childless women, mothers, women who have been divorced, stay-at-home moms, career women, even the crazy woman who wears her SAG pin every week. They enrich my life … and this coming from a woman who couldn’t stand Homemak~ … err Enrichment.
Last week I was set apart by a member of the bishopric who I’ve never conversed with, and who barely knows my name. And yet, as he set me apart, with phrases that he no doubt uses in a variety of settings-apart, I was incredibly moved. I was blessed with the ability and responsibility to develop my talents, and that sisters would be strengthened and draw closer to god through my efforts. On the surface, it seems so pat and prosaic, but it struck a chord that continues to resound.
So yes, I am part of a complicated mechanism … not to trap souls, but to vault them to their highest potential. I may not perform my part perfectly at all times, but with our combined efforts, we will accomplish marvelous things.
Dora lives in sunny Los Angeles. She works as a PICU RN, and spends the rest of her time passionately involved in lindy and blues dancing, literature, finding common ground, travelling and experimenting with new hobbies. Dora has been fascinated with feminism and the Exponent II since the southern California roundtable discussion and looks forward to being a contributor here.