Independence. A word we all seem to value. A state of liberation, self decision, strength. The USA declares this very word in its triad of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as one of its foundation stones, cleaving to Independence with veracity. We celebrate our country’s independence with aplomb every July 4, a day reserved for leisure and customary parades, cook-outs, jamborees and the every-lasting firework bouquet.
Today however, I wonder truly about Independence. It plays in my mind, bubbling about like those balls in a child’s push play-toy, the gum ball colors bouncing noisily about.
July 4, 2003:
A torrid July 4. I recall the exhilarating surge of Independence upon stepping out of my frayed marriage, away from 3 years of the choking haze of illness (undiagnosed Lyme disease) and astride the backseat of my dashing suitor’s roaring motorcycle.
After too many years of crimped heartstrings, a lockjaw on communal happiness and a lost career, I felt mighty and free and intrepid zooming along the snaking country roads up to a lakeland sanctuary. Swimming in the cool, clear highland waters, I remember the sensory awareness that spectacular Independence Day placed in my own life, as I was no longer a man’s wife, but had gained my liberty.
By nightfall, bobbing in giddy bliss at a festive party, the sultry night air wrapped my new lover and me in euphoric waves, the boat dock firmly rigid against my backbone with fireworks erupting overhead. Liberated, free, independent, striding forth, the sparkling colors cascaded downwards, orange embers laying softly upon my skin and falling droplet like upon the waters. I felt the brilliant magic of the world, of love, of courage, of a new beginning. That Independence Day set a cornerstone in my core.
The years unfurled, many more Independence Days to honor. Children’s laughter, our dog trembling in horror at the booming cacophony and the ritual joy now as a committed couple and blended family. Independence Days on the green, the band playing in the gazebo, we slurp local ice cream and the Norman Rockwell charm oozes in immense quotients, as my childhood native american print blanket cozies us faithfully, the firework display behind the half-moon antique carriage barn, now a favored treasure. The tapestry of living weaves its marvelous threads. Life is good. There is love.
And, we endured with patience, with tenderness, in passion, and in trials. The Lyme disease relapse took me way down deep, to the ocean floor of life. I could not walk, or think or sometimes ever believe I would live. But, I did and I healed, and he helped me, held me, encouraged me onwards. We weathered the storms and the fireworks soared ever faithful on Independence Days.
We buried his daughter. Our hearts were crushed. I nursed him in love and compassion. Our family was fractured and yet we held on, tightly, with fervor, we would not let the other drown. Our pact was forged to the marrow, “I will be by your side”.
The good times began anew. Creativity. A new business. A new home with new friends and neighbors and good health. A wondrous book was birthed. Travel and a calling to heal the wounded. Life spiraled and soared, arching and vaulting, like the spectacular fireworks of Independence Day. The glowing orange embers of grace fell droplet like around us on the waters of our life.
July 4, 2013:
Today, I am being asked to embrace Independence once again. I have been studying this word and the feelings stirred in me. This time Independence is not as gay and flighty as that sensual one ten years ago, nor as safe and reliable as all the others in between. This one has another tone; that of a solitary being. For I am alone.
He is packing boxes with his belongings on this Independence Day, moving away from me and our home and our union. It is shocking and confusing, yet I must hold my center. For like this proud word suggests – Independence – self-reliance, separation, autonomy, liberty, I must attune to the new chapter dawning.
My friend gave me this animal totem. I resonate with it cleanly— Heron.
A Heron totem teaches balance;
the ability to progress and evolve —
to walk into deeper waters without fear.
It is important for someone with a Heron
totem to learn to stand on their own two feet,
to become independent and self-reliant.
So, I make my own Declaration of Independence, one I can hold in my heart and live into, as a single individual, no longer as that mated couple or busy family unit or even as part of another. That is the trickiest mind game right now, is learning how to not be part of an-other. I am so used to caring and sharing and thinking beyond my Self to my-Other. Focusing solely on me is an anomoly. But, I cannot fight the tide. I must swim with it, into deeper waters as Heron suggests. Though he has left now, I must soar.
I declare myself as Independent of all constraints, assumptions, ties and live fully with creativity, passion, self reliance and in balance.