As we gather with our friends and family this July 4th, consider each person as a separate and unique human being. All too often we mingle with our circle of loved ones, enjoy the usual summer favorite foods and chat about what's happening in the world. Oh, we may ask how Uncle Fred is doing after his accident, and how Aunt Myrtle is attempting to keep up with everything he needs. Of course, we'll comment about how the young ones have grown, ask how the teens are doing in school, and whether the newlyweds are planning a family in the foreseeable future. These days politics take center stage, everything from gas prices, inflation, whose fault it is we're in such a mess and the list goes on. The truth of the matter is we're all tied to the state of affairs in our country and in the world. The "old folks" continue to comment about how today's world doesn't look like the one they grew up in; that's to say, it was much simpler and less confusing, while the middle-aged folks talk about how they're ever going to be able to retire with all the financial chaos. Meanwhile, the younger ones stay plugged into their headset while their heads bob back and forth to whatever music their listening to, while the other young one's stare at their phones as they move their fingers at warp speed texting or playing games. Indeed, the holidays are interesting times.
The Fourth of July offers us the opportunity to have our gatherings conclude with fireworks. With only the ooh's and ah's, everyone is quiet and wide-eyed watching the beautiful display of colors, shapes and various sizes of the fireworks. Rarely do you hear someone talking during these amazing displays of wonder and beauty. Truly, there is nothing more lovely than witnessing how such marvelous displays could burst from the fireworks being shot from a simple container. If for only a few moments a group of people are focused with amazement at something that stirs their emotions from deep within. What a wonderful reminder that despite what is going on in our communities, our country and in the world, a simple display of fireworks can move us to a common place shared by those around us at that moment and time.
Perhaps this year when you gather with your family, you might really look into the eyes of those sitting around the table with you. How are they feeling behind the words they say? Do they seem happy or does something seem "out of sorts?" It's not our job to analyze anyone, and certainly not to judge how they feel. It's simply an opportunity to sharpen our observation skills. Truth be told, after two years of social distancing, a hug might be the best medicine everyone needs. Of course, smile first, then offer them a hug, they may not be comfortable with that yet; but you can bet that smile offered them something!
While you are at the fireworks display, consider turning your eyes away for a few moments to observe those around you. Really look at the expressions on their faces. My hunch is most people's faces will show a childlike wonder of how something so magnificent is possible. It really is a wonderful world, and perhaps if we can witness that for even a moment, the state of the world will change before our eyes. Rather than noticing the surface stuff, perhaps taking a deeper look would help us notice the uniqueness of each person, while offering us the opportunity to notice the common thread that ties us together. Now, wouldn't that be True Freedom?
Vicky Kelm Williams
I find people absolutely fascinating!