(May 28, 2018) With Memorial Day upon us, our minds rightfully go to all the brave men and women who have fought to keep our country safe and free. I always think of my three uncles who fought so bravely in World War II. They gave up four years of their lives and experienced unimaginable things so we could continue to live as a free nation.
What does freedom mean though? They were literally fighting to keep another country and an insane dictator from taking over the world. And, at a macro level, that still defines freedom. But, what were they fighting to keep alive in the United States? The right to vote, the freedom of religion, the freedom of the press… Certainly, all of those are core tenets of our great country.
At a micro level, though, I think all those can be boiled down to the freedom to be yourself – to think for yourself, to express yourself freely, to be who you were meant to be. That’s the freedom all of us, even civilians, can fight for actively every day.
Lately, I feel like that freedom of expression is being challenged. It seems some in our country are seeking a more homogeneous way of thinking and acting. I could not disagree with this way of thinking more vehemently. I honor their right to think the way they do, but I will always fight against their wishes that everyone think and act like them. To me, freedom is the right to be yourself. To do whatever you want to do without feeling tethered by convention or societal rules.
I grew up in a small, primarily German Catholic town. It was a great place to grow up and I owe my good sense and morals to that upbringing, however, when you add small town to Catholic to German, you get a lot of rules. Growing up in that environment, I never really felt comfortable to express myself freely.
I think that’s why I love living in a beach town so much. The vibe is one of freedom to do anything that feels right – let your hair down, go makeup free, dance on the beach. Pretty much anything goes here and, no one cares. Just be you and let me be me.
My family calls me a hippie-wanna-be. Ha. I don’t know that I “wanna be” anything, but myself. I’m in my fifties and am still discovering who that is. Better late than never. What I’ve discovered so far, is that I want to be a person that doesn’t feel like I’m thinking, feeling or dressing for anyone, but myself.
As silly as it might sound, I still let the “rules” of my youth creep back into my mind when I let loose and wear something sexy or go out with my hair flowing wild and free. That’s who I am down deep, and if you know me from my younger years, that’s probably not who you think of when you think of me…
The difference is now, the rules might creep back into my mind, but I don’t feel the need to follow them anymore. I recently finished watching the wonderful Amazon series Mozart In The Jungle. I was inspired by the lead female character’s journey from small town, conservative oboe player to a free-thinking, hair-whipping wild orchestra conductor. As the male lead told her, she always had the “blood” inside her, but now, she was finally feeling it.
I had a slow start in expressing the freedom to be myself, but I’m not going to dishonor freedom any more by not being myself. It might have been a slow start, but it’s going to be a fast finish. Here I go, into my fifties, hair long and flowing with sexy sundresses and flip flops. Watch out world. I’m feeling the freedom. I’m feeling the blood. I hope you are, too.