INdependence or INTERdependence?

As my home country Finland is celebrating its 100th day of independence today, I am also reflecting what independence means. My thoughts wonder to the amazing human body and movement, as they often do, and I ponder what the concept of independence would mean for the body in motion.

Independence, by definition, means the ability to self-govern and the freedom or liberty to make decisions that concern oneself. This is in fact what truly makes a nation, a country that is recognized by other countries as independent and the right to be treated as such. In order to gain such state many nations have gone through a painful and long process, such a war or political unrest where many people have paid a high price for the freedom they sought or defended. “Freedom is not free.”, someone once said. Independence is the most valued jewel of any nation.

But, then I also started thinking about the word ‘interdependence’, that, by definition, means a state of being dependent on each other, whether people, things or countries. As much as we value our independence, we really can’t function without each other either.

The body really is a beautiful example of interdependence, each body part doing its own job, but at the same time being truly dependent on each other. There is no competition, but a built-in objective to make the whole body successful by supporting one another. This is best demonstrated when a body part is NOT doing optimal job and the other parts are suffering as a result.

The interconnected joints are a great example of this, attached by the skeletal as well as the soft tissue structures. A joint that has a limited function for a reason or another will influence the joints around it, below and above.

Have you noticed how certain joints ‘complain’ more than the others? Maybe you hear more whining from the knee and the low back that from the rest of the body. We tend to make a mistake of directing all the attention to the ‘complainers’, such as the knee and the low back and forget that these joints might be in pain because their team-mates are not doing what they are supposed to do. Maybe the knee is not the actual problem and the reasons for disfunction is found in the ankle or higher up in the hip.

Interdependence means inability to function without the support from the team. In movement, success can only be found through interdependence with our team mates. It is a humble and vulnerable position that is natural for the body but often less natural or comfortable for us in many other ways. Humans are not easily admitting their dependence on each other and maybe even more so, on their Creator. Often our prideful stance leads to broken relationships with our fellow humans, but more importantly, it keeps us far from our God.