Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 33/34: Declaring Independence

A few years back, when I was working for a bestselling author who traveled internationally giving lectures and workshops, I heard her make an interesting comment on the different temperaments she found visiting different countries. She wasn't valuing any one over the others, but rather expressing her surprise at how ready Americans are to jump ship and try something new, whereas European audiences seemed more likely to embrace some form of "bloom where you're planted." She acknowledged that these were huge generalizations. But it was interesting to be in conversation with her that night over wine and salad, thinking about how we're influenced by the choices of our ancestors. "If you're American," she said, "It means at some point, someone in your family risked everything to try and start over...or was forced against their will into a life they never wanted. It means that somewhere inside, you have a proven capacity to adapt."

I've thought of this at different times over the years. I don't know the full story of how my ancestors made it to New England from Ireland, England, and France. But some of their audacious hope flows through my veins, clearly, as I'm more willing than most to take a leap of faith. (Too willing, perhaps...who knows?) But I do know this: we have evidence all around us that walking/flying/boating/swimming/running away from something that isn't working can be a solid way to press "restart" on life.

Just to be clear: I'm not talking about abandoning a marriage because your husband doesn't read the books you think he should, or running out on a job you find a little dull. There are benefits to imperfect situations, too. What I'm talking about is when you've tried everything to make it work (my time as a lawyer comes to mind--wow, did I try hard to love that job) and it just doesn't. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again, expecting the results to be different.

We're all a little bit insane in this way, I suspect. This weekend, no matter where you live, let's adopt Independence Day as a chance to break out of those patterns. Whether it's a daily thing like eating food without enjoying it, making excuses and not doing the things you love (my recent trip to the beach where I battled back the "I'm too fat to swim" thoughts and dove in comes to mind), or clothes that are "appropriate" but don't express your style...or big things like a dead end relationship or job, let's take a leap/make a change/believe things will be better if we set out for some new territory in our lives. If you're not sure what, or how, ask God. I've found he has surprising things to say--suggestions and encouragements we wouldn't come up with on our own--when we invite him into the conversation.

It's worth a try! Happy Independence Weekend :)


Sarakastic said...

I've always wanted to declare my independence like actually declare it, now I just have to figure out from what.

larramiefg said...

How about declaring your thoughts to be free and least this weekend

KimberlyH said...

This gave me a lot to think about.