Independence isn’t freedom, or at least it’s not freedom from everything. Independence is the acceptance of a lot of responsibilities.
Independence Isn’t Freedom
In 1776, a bunch of people in the new world that became America signed a Declaration of Independence. That document didn’t say, “Okay, so things are about to get a lot easier.” They were surrendering their financial support, their governance, ties with many supply chains, and much more. Yes, they had good reason. It was a bad deal. But my point is that for those people to take that stance is almost always portrayed as a breath of fresh air. “Hooray! We’re free.”
The Independence of America was one of those moments in time when people swallowed the red pill. (Yes, sure. I just compared the American Revolution to The Matrix. Why not?)
The Remover of Obstacles
Ganesh (the elephant god in the picture above) is called the remover of obstacles. He represents the forces in our universe that help us reach our goals. When I started learning about various Hindu deities, I was told by more than a few people to look at these gods as external manifestations of internal traits. Thus, if I’m praying to Ganesha, I’m asking myself to dig deep and find my own capability to remove obstacles. (Not being a Hindu scholar, you’re welcome to split hairs, but maybe don’t, and just go with me on this.)
Choosing one’s own path, declaring independence from a previous path, is a moment when you are forced to dig deep and find inside yourself a whole series of new capabilities.
The Business of Independence is Expensive
Shortly after the “Founding Fathers” declared America to be a free agent, we almost went broke. We had to beg for a lot of money from a lot of neighbors who asked for a lot in return for the loot. Think about it: the ink is barely dry on a document that says we’ve asked our rich bosses to let us work from home, and then we start asking people for loans. “We’ll pay you back. Honest!”
America was quite an unlikely startup in a lot of ways. The people who gave the country money did so because they could see a lot of potential in the untapped resources and real estate that was here, but even that wasn’t a sure thing. Imagine owning a strip mall in the middle of a swamp. It was hard to supply, and though the location would maybe turn out okay with some land adaptation, success was not a guarantee.
Independence is a Difficult Path
To choose to be independent means having to source your own success over and over. It means building a great deal of infrastructure (mental, physical, spiritual, financial) to support your direction. And it is not a destination, but rather the hallway that connects dependence and interdependence. It’s written that independence is a state of self-governance and sovereignty. Think about those two terms. Self-governance is actually a whole ball of responsibility, as is the choice to be your own king.
You’re not free from worry, not free from responsibility, not free from challenges or hardships or the possibility of failure. You’re not free from much. You’ve simply signed (literally or figuratively) onto the notion that you’d like to steer the ship’s ultimate direction, for better or worse.
To those who’ve chosen independence in some (or all) facets of their lives, I salute you, because it’s a difficult choice. But the rewards are often worth it.