This is a really trite statement, but I don’t care: You can’t help but think about the essence of liberty on America’s birthday. As a collective conscience the entire country is focused on the idea of freedom today. The very core of American idealism and patriotism is rooted in our freedom as a people. The day is etched in our minds each year, set aside to appreciate the wonder that is the exceptionalism of our nation, the liberties we are granted and the notion of individual responsibility and accountability that we hold so dear to our hearts.
I can’t help but put this idea of freedom into perspective in my own life. So often in the past I have felt as though I was trapped by circumstances. Like if one thing could change then I’d actually have the freedom I longed for to reorder the entire trajectory of my life. In the past 6 and half months, I have gone through a huge personal transformation and self-discovery process. In the throes of a terrible breakup and subsequent yo-yo of ups and downs, heart breaks and triumphs, I’ve learned a lot about who I am and what really matters in life. I have been forced to come to understand and appreciate the aspects of slowing down, breathing deeply, and taking in the few beautiful and precious moments of life. So often it’s tempting to speed through your day, hit the pillow at night and fall asleep as fast as you can, just to rush into the next day with exuberance. I have found that although life can be exciting when it’s filled to the brim with an endless stream of activity, or when there’s a major project or goal to work toward, sometimes slowing down, just to take in the majestic little nuances can be just as thrilling and more fulfilling than we give credence to.
There’s something so amazing about standing on the edge of the ocean, watching wave after wave crash onto the shore. When I was in southern California a few months back, I remember standing on the beach, sunlight tingling on my face and shoulders, staring out into the vast beauty of the Pacific glittering with the brilliance of a precious stone. I thought to myself, “This right here, this is paradise. I never want to leave.” In hind-sight, this wasn’t just about the beautiful scenery. This wasn’t about the warm air and the cadence of water rolling up onto the shore. This was about something so much more: a sense of peace, a sense of calm that I hadn’t felt in ages. I was finally in place that I alone was responsible for being in. I finally felt like I had control of a moment. That sensation contrasted so sharply with my daily routine, and so there was a tangibility to all the heart issues I had been aching to cast aside just melting way effortlessly into the beauty of the moment. Nothing else mattered while standing on that shore. No one could take that away from me, no matter how hard they tried, it was mine alone. I took time to share this with the people I care about via a text message. This is what it said,
There is nothing quite like looking out upon the ocean, water as far as the eye can see, the ever beckoning of waves ushering you over to partake in the majestic nature of creation. The view is constant, yet changing constantly, breathtakingly wonderful, yet serene in its rhythm. I wonder sometimes how anyone could take this for granted; how a universe devoid of a loving Creator could produce a beauty this profound or this awe-inspiring. How could this be anything but love?!
I have traditionally been the type to second-guess myself, wondering if I’m doing the right thing, expressing myself in a way that doesn’t hurt or offend. Most would label this as insecurity or low self-esteem. I don’t know for sure if that’s accurate but over the years, it had gotten worse and worse. I was hiding myself away from almost everyone. I didn’t ever want anyone to know how I really felt or what I really thought, unless I felt safe. I’d stay quite and observe. Often times, within the confines of safety, that expression came out stronger because of the hiding. That text message is an example of something I would have never sent a year ago. I would have written that stuff down maybe but it would be tucked it away in a notebook, for no one’s eyes but mine. I think it really caught people off-guard in a way. I wasn’t doing it for shock value. I sent it as a way of saying, “Hey everyone! I know you have been really worried about me and my emotional state these past few months, but guess what, my heart is bursting with joy right now!” But see, you can’t just say things like that. People will think you’re straight up crazy. So, what do I do? Well, I find a more creative way of expressing these thoughts. People generally have a harder time with criticizing or questioning someone’s creative expression –directly /to their face at least. So not many responses were received but it didn’t really matter. I wanted to let people know that I was changing. I was healing and I would be better every day. I am still in that process and I am still riding the wave of emotions, but it won’t be taking me under. Never. Never.
So this whole thought process has brought me to a place in my understanding that I have never been before. I am at the precipice of realization that in the end, there exists in each of us a longing to be okay. To stand on the shoreline of a vast ocean of self, and appreciate the beauty within. There is, without exception, something exceptional about each and every person. That’s huge. That’s amazing. Freedom is not just about doing what you want, when you want to. It’s more about being. When you’re free to just be and not always do, you are propelled into life in a such a way that you may surprise yourself. Then, the doing part comes naturally – you might even say, freely.