For many, Independence Day has come and gone in an orgy of fireworks, sunscreen and barbecue. My holiday was decidedly different this year and it has me thinking hard about independence and what it means in my own life and the lives of my friends. I suspect I’ll be pondering this long after the fuse on the last of the bottle rockets gets lit.
I spent the 4th with some of my oldest friends in the world – people who have been in my life through graduations, weddings, births and, now, separations and divorces. We’ve been witnesses and participants in each others lives for so long that it is sometimes difficult to see the individuals as independent entities. We’re connected so deeply through history and shared experiences that when I’m reminded of the fragility of the relationships we have created, it can take my breath away.
When one is lucky enough to have friends such as these, there’s a certain comfort level that is achieved allowing one to, hopefully, truly be themselves. Sometimes, though, the history of us, and who we have been, can distract from who we are becoming as we grow and stretch in new directions. It can be uncomfortable or disconcerting to acknowledge and accept the changes which must come with sustainable long-term relationships, but when the essential goodness of our friends remains intact, their personal declarations of independence do not detract from the friendship we all share.
Our nation is built upon a foundation of basic beliefs including the timeless assertion that we have certain unalienable rights. Despite the metaphorical fireworks that explode each time a marriage falters or fails, or a friendship buckles from the complications of couples parting or pairing, I will accept nothing less than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for myself. And, as far as my friends are concerned, I want the very same for each of them.