Monday, July 4, 2011

Fourth of July

On the Fourth of July fireworks rain across the skies, barbeque aromas ride the wind, watermelon juices drip down faces, and our nation’s colors soar in the breeze.  We gather on porches, in backyards, at parks, and monuments.  We are asked to slow down our daily routines and remember our nation’s history, our invaluable freedom, and traditions that have formed our lives one memory at a time.

As I child I remember being proud of my father, grandfather, uncles and aunts, and all others who served in the military.   I was proud to wear red, white, and blue.  I longed for fireworks all summer.   And there were never enough hamburgers and hotdogs to keep me satisfied.  At that time, lightning bugs and lemonades measured summer nights.  But now that adult summer is here, I am finding myself thinking about this holiday in a slightly different light.

On this day 235 years ago, our nation declared its independence from Great Britain.   It was an end of an great era and the start of something even more monumental.  Not only would our country survive against the odds, we would thrive—changing the world forever.  It’s hard to believe our Founding fathers had any idea what the future would hold for the country they created.  Rather, I imagine all the boys planning their big move, damming the British, fighting long and hard for years, signing the Declaration of Independence and then promptly asking, “Uhhh—now what?” 

More often than not, ending something is not the most difficult part—it’s beginning something new. 

For this reason, Independence Day is well-timed in my own life.  At the end of June I completed a two-year apprenticeship and entered July with a future unknown.  It felt like a day of independence when I finally graduated.  Countless hours, long days, and difficult work brought me to the moment of graduation—the completion, the end, the start of something new.  It felt like I was signing my own declaration of independence. 

When our Founding Fathers decided to fight to end British control, they did so in search of freedom.  They sought the freedom to grow into whatever they desired to become.   And they started a nation that has done just that.  America has explored, invented, expanded, and recreated.  We started out as nothing more than an idea and now we are a great nation known throughout the world.  That is simply amazing. 

And yet, here I am over two hundred years later, and my freedom scares me.  I keep asking myself, how could I be scared of the freedom to begin something new?  How could I dread the unknown?  American was built on the freedom to learn, the freedom to create, and most importantly—the freedom to be great.

Well, I refuse to let fear get in the way of becoming something great.  So on this fourth of July, I am breathing in the original American spirit.  In the words of Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.  So throw off the bowlines.  Sail away from safe harbor.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Whose with me?!
Simply because Independence Day is a great film :) 

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