Independence Day. It is, like many U.S. holidays, lost in part to beer and fireworks and sales, the meaning diluted or held up as a siren song for Us vs Them chest-thumping talk, the kind of talk that inevitably ends in war, in order for another independence to be won. And so on.
The U.S. Declaration of Independence contains this sentence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
All men and women are created equal, indeed, but that is evidently not self-evident to those who have determined that some Rights are to be voted on, negating the very idea of Rights in the first place.
So, Independence Day. Choice Day. Declaration Day. A day when our founding fathers thought enough about the idea of happiness as a human right to say so. Unalienable, even. Whose happiness, I wonder? The people in the majority, or everyone? And haven’t we lost happiness in pursuit of being right, being against something or someone, winning?
We take our freedom so much for granted, don’t we? We place conditions on it: Oprah loses weight and we think, “Sure, sure, I could lose weight, too, if I had a personal chef and personal trainer,” forgetting that we are free to make healthy choices about mindful moving and eating, just as she is. We witness bullying and do nothing to stop it, fearing we’ll make a scene. We bitch and complain about politics, and then we don’t vote. We squander our freedom, people. We squander it. We abdicate our personal responsibility for freedom to others, looking to them for the “rules,” the talking points, the endorsement. We invest in the pursuit, not in the letting go and leaning into happiness.
And are we best served by declaring our freedom from something (a resistance against) or our freedom to (a living into)?
So many questions. And so I started thinking: What is my Declaration of Independence, or interdependence, as my friend Kathy Schuth says? On this independence day, I’ve been thinking about all the freedoms I have. Here are some of them. It is a work in progress. As is life:
My Declaration of In(ter)dependence
I hold these truths to finally be self-evident, after 52+ years on the planet. Perhaps they were evident all along, but not necessarily to me. But now they are, by virtue of living and listening and surrounding myself with amazing people I learn from every day, and by virtue of some innate wisdom with which I’ve been graced.
I have the freedom to say yes, and I have the freedom to say no. And no is a complete sentence.
I have the freedom to choose how I respond to any circumstance, even the most dire, the most hurtful, the most painful. I can always choose love, even in those circumstances, and even if it takes me a while to get there sometimes.
I have the freedom to give myself grace, or punish myself. I choose grace.
I have the freedom to see myself as whole, or broken, and I choose whole.
I have the freedom to make goals, and change them.
I have the freedom to let go of people who, for whatever reason, are toxic to me.
I have the freedom to walk away or work harder to make it work.
I have the freedom to let go of any inhibitions I have about speaking my mind, and at the same time allow that other people have wholly different minds.
I have the freedom to choose being happy over being right.
I have the freedom to make healthier choices.
I have the freedom to love my body right now, not after I lose weight, unconditionally.
I have the freedom to relinquish my throne as the Queen of the People Pleasers.
I have the freedom to ask why, and not simply how.
I have the freedom to laugh loudly, but never at people, at misery, at poverty, at injustice.
I have the freedom to tell a different story with my life, one that is quiet or loud, big or small–I have those choices.
I have the freedom to vote, and I have the responsibility to shut up if I don’t vote.
I have the freedom to love well, live fully, let go deeply, and make a difference.
I have the freedom to ignore the experts and their templates for success and go my own way.
I have the freedom to follow my own heart, deeply and fully.
I have the freedom to love whomever I want, and I recognize that not everyone does.
I have the freedom to either be the heroine of my story, or the victim of it.
I have the freedom to react or respond, and I choose the latter whenever possible.
I have the freedom to walk into discomfort without judging myself or other people.
I have the freedom to see difficult, hot moments as opportunities for growth.
I have the freedom to see life as playing a game to win, or playing a game to learn.
I have the freedom to either focus on the obstacles, or on the yearnings, and I choose the yearnings.
I have the freedom to hand other people along.
I have the freedom to speak in my own voice.
I have the freedom to make bad choices and live into the consequences, and recover.
I have the freedom to say what I long to say.
I have the freedom to be overwhelmed, or not.
I have the freedom to be a mother to my children, a partner to my spouse, a neighbor to my neighbors, a friend to my friends.
I have the freedom to be open, or closed.
I have the freedom to acquire, or to give.
I have the freedom to work for the unalienable rights of other people so they are truly unalienable, and not political.
I have the freedom to understand that with freedom comes great responsibility.
What is your declaration of in(ter)dependence? What are some of your freedoms you now recognize as self-evident? What do you declare? Leave a comment and let me–and others in this community–know. That’s how we learn. By sharing.