Saturday, July 9, 2011

Picnic basket, watermelon and lemonaideA Holiday Celebration

Boy I love a good holiday. People getting together, getting reacquainted, getting to do things they’ve waited a long time to do, getting to eat and drink and getting to feel good about themselves and the world around them. July 4th is one of those kinds of holidays.

I celebrated the 4th in a little town in the middle of nowhere.  I like it there because the middle of nowhere is a nice break from the middle of everywhere. Most of the time I’m there its very quiet – simple people, doing simple things, enjoying simple pleasures and living life simply. But on a long holiday weekend it seems that everyone comes out and, well, celebrates. You have to go to the store and get hot dogs and hamburgers and potato salad and watermelon and corn to feed the people who are around. More people stop by to say hi and then hang around to talk about the year just ended, their hopes for the coming one and to remember all that’s gone on or those who’ve passed. Some are sick, some are well, others are happy and some are going through rough times and then there are those who seemingly never change. But no matter what their personal circumstances, all are happy to be there, to be alive, to renew acquaintances and to celebrate.  There are old folks to listen to as they tell their stories, newlyweds who are giddy in love and happy to hold hands, teens who awkwardly manage the moves of their age and newborns who go through the endless introductions and cheek pinching with some degree of enjoyment. It’s a time of renewal and it’s always damn good to see everyone.

We were on a lake and so everyone felt compelled to either get wet or watch those who did.  Everyone proclaims how warm the water is even though the water is nowhere near warm enough to get in yet. But hey, it’s a holiday and everyone feels like they have to get involved. And on a holiday like the 4th of July there are lots of loyalists and patriots. And while those adjectives mean a lot today, they are left over from ones that had different meanings when the nation that was born gave rise to this July 4th holiday. Back then, the “loyalists” were loyal to the King of England and they didn’t much want the changes that were sweeping the Colonies. The “patriots” were those demanding change, looking for the freedoms they thought they’d been promised and hoping for a new day. These were people who came from common places but lived different lives; they were from different religious and economic backgrounds; they were all looking for a better tomorrow, each with different expectations. But like most people at most points in time, these differences created frictions that got heated and outsized. So they fought and many died; and while more were wounded physically and psychologically, change came to them all whether they wanted it or not.

And now, 230+ years later, all the descendants of those people are united as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice enjoyed by nearly all. The new nation of loyalists and patriots came together at the end of that revolutionary war and forged relationships, partnerships and friendships – and together they began to build a new world and nation that continues to today. It’s amazing how resilient people are – they fight passionately one day and make up the next; they are divided one day and united the next. Nations, like families and communities, continually go through this continuing change of circumstances and life and through it all, they’re always glad to come together in common purpose or celebration to focus on the things that bring us together, the things that bind, the things that make the glass half full or more. If you’re as tight as you want to be with those you live with and love then consider yourself lucky. If you’re not, try to understand why and then see if you can do something about it. Because whether you’re a loyalist or patriot, tomorrow will come and then you’ll again be one of the countless people who are on this adventurous journey through life. Make sure you do what needs to be done to get the most out of your journey. And that will be something to celebrate!

My message this week is about deciding how you want to live:

Arte Nathan
“You don't get to choose how you are going to die or when. You can only decide how you're going to live.”  -Joan Baez

Joan Baez (b 1941) is an American folk artist whose songs helped define a generation. She first attended the Newport Folk Festival in 1959 and went on to become one of the leading voices during the Civil Rights and Anti War movements of the 1960s.

People always say that the only certainties in life are death and taxes. While these two certainly impact each of us, the way we live is the true determinant of how we’re perceived and remembered.  And because it’s a choice, it speaks volumes about who and what we are. Have you thought about how you want to live your life – is it as someone who makes things up as you go along or do you plan and implement things logically; do you try to get away doing as little as possible or are you the one that everyone relies on; do you do the minimum and claim the maximum or do you quietly over achieve all the time???  Deciding to do one instead of the other – either way – is the measure of your integrity and commitment to excellence.  Decide wisely because that determines how you’re going to live.

Stay well!

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