shallow power

a follow up to shit separating

I wrote earlier this week about shit separators. It brought up some great questions about interdependence vs independence and shit mixing. This issue of the Foolsletter is a response to that question. 

We start our lives completely dependent on our mothers. After being part of them, we separate and become part of the world. Infants? Still dependent.

As we grow, we become more able to care for ourselves. This some describe as a process of becoming ‘independent’. Independent? That’s a remarkably foolish ideal. As we become less dependent on adults to take care of our physical and emotional needs, what we are dependent on from others changes. 

Teens rely on their peers for support. They are like a densely packed thicket of brush. Stacked tight, they are frequently confused about whose branch is whose. Seemingly simple situations have tragic implications. A lot of people get stuck in this codependent thicket of worrying about the judgement of others. More still hide behind the false assumption that if they made any changes, they would annihilate the others. 

There’s a dirty little old lie that rattles around to this day. We see it a lot in the popular media. It seems pretty present in a lot of American stuff too. It’s the notion of individual independence. If you believe in this, you likely believe in the myth of free will as well. (Sam Harris has thoroughly debunked that one here) The myth, as it goes, is that we support a child through schooling, then magically they pop out on the other side, gainfully employed, independent and able to care for themselves.

I call this a myth because it leaves out all of the infrastructures and hidden connections we all rely on in order to enjoy the lives we are living. If you’re reading these words, you’re a piece of a puzzle, not independent of it...

An independent tree on the edge of a hill? Unless it’s a pine or a hemlock with a deep taproot, it won’t last long. And even these trees that live up to four hundred years here in Nova Scotia? They can’t, on their own, survive the largest of hurricanes. They don’t blow over typically. Naw. They just break. 

Independence doesn’t last.

So what does that leave us? Codependency? Unfortunately I see a lot of that. Codependency is another funny one. It’s like a forest of just a few trees all leaning on each other.

They’re screaming, panicked little asshole trees. 




A tree or two inevitably fall down. 

The others survive. Disfigured by growing sideways to support their codependent neighbours. Misshapen by leaning on each other.

Interdependent trees are a whole different thing.

They grow tall and straight. There are places where they rub up against each other. The chafe and scrape. Mostly? They share resources like water and nutrients. They share support with an interconnected root system. They hold on together when it counts. They reach for the sun in their own unique ways. 

They don’t get angry at each other for lack of sun.

If one tree blows over, the forest remains.

Here in Nova Scotia, we have a lot of spruce and fir trees that cling to our harsh shallow soiled coastline. These trees have big shallow interconnected root systems. They can live up to three or four hundred years without a tap root. They can't be too close and they can't be too far from each other. The network of roots allows them to cling together. In doing so they share wind protection. They shelter each other while holding onto the earth when the winds are really strong. 

The forest is stronger than the sum of the individual trees. They work together. Though they are growing on their own, trees live in a community. Their community doesn’t need to be ancient. To thrive, trees connect and commit to helping each other.  

Next? Let’s help each other have fun.

One Derful Thing

The Glitch

This is for a group meeting, a yoga class, a team practice, a rehearsal or a zoom call depending on what you have access to.

Someone is in charge. They don’t get to know about the joke.

Get as many people from your team together to decide on glitch word.

Every time the coach / manager / leader / boss says this word, everybody makes a sound and gesture.

Make this word something that you know that the person who isn’t in on the joke says frequently.

Each time they use the word?

Make your ‘glitch sound’ and action bigger.

Repeat until they figure out that everyone is doing it.

If they are a solid leader, they’ll be able to take the joke.

If not?

Fuck them. They shouldn’t be leading.