You know that immediate sinking, twisting feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realize you’ve lost something really important? Yeah, that’s the worst. And precisely the feeling I experienced this past weekend when I opened my wallet and knew without even looking that my driver’s license had vanished somewhere within the greater Chicago area. I was sure I dropped it somewhere close by, but a solid hour of combing the surrounding sidewalk and restaurant floor with my friends turned up approximately nothing.
So there I was, stranded in Chicago with no form of photo identification and a flight booked to St. Louis two days later! Grand. I learned a hard lesson in the relationship between independence and interdependence this past weekend. I also had an up close and personal encounter with our old friend, humility. While out here on the road recruiting for Catholic Volunteer Network, it can be all too easy to get caught up in the glamour of feeling extremely independent and self-reliant. I’m in charge of figuring out how, where, when, why, and what I will be doing in almost every city I visit, which is an extraordinary and wonderful experience that I am truly enjoying. However, in the midst of all this personal responsibility and freedom, I quickly forgot just how dependent we really are on our friends and family, our communities large and small.
In order to remedy my mistake in losing my license, I needed my parents. Bless their souls, they shipped me my passport (not without some grumblings, indeed, but clearly well-warranted) the same day I called them in a panic. Without my parents and the unbelievable services of my new best friend FedEx, I’d still be stranded in Chicago. I needed my unbelievably wonderful friend Duda, who followed me to Milwaukee so I could return my rental car there, and then drove me back to Midway Airport in Chicago, allowing me to avoid huge rental car drop fees. (Seriously, best friend ever). I needed all these people and more, who stepped up out of their goodness and love, to help me in my time of, quite frankly, desperation.
I couldn’t be more humbled or grateful for this, and have been reflecting on the relationship between independence and interdependence ever since this all went down. It’s an uncomfortably humbling experience to feel helpless and alone, and one that we all will encounter at one point or another in our lives. The beauty of that being, it is in precisely these moments that we are reminded of the importance of community and humanity, in helping one another out for no reason other than empathy, compassion, and love.