From earliest childhood, one of my favorite phrases has been “do it myself!” Sounding out my first words in the comics, dancing my first square dance at the playground, playing my first note on the clarinet – all of these early firsts, and all the firsts since, have come with the intoxicating joy of effort and achievement.
What is less celebrated, and sometimes harder to see, is the giant web of support that makes even the smallest scrap of independence possible. My dad sat for endless hours with me and the comics before that first word came together. My mom enthusiastically cheered my not-so-graceful dance moves. Our elementary school band director Mr. Wagner encouraged progress with a superhuman combination of patience and kindness.
Keep going and we link to the artists who created the comics, the delivery kids who brought the papers to us, the trees that provided the pulp, the creators of the printing press, the developers of written language… Even the smallest example of “do it myself” quickly reveals a spiral of interdependence, where each contributor is simultaneously the star and a tiny bit part.
Dear ones, as we celebrate Independence Day in these United States, as we cherish the do-it-myself-ness of our own lives, let us be grateful for the interdependence that makes it all possible.