Last week I requested a personal day off (Wednesday January 16, 2019—National Religious Freedom Day) because I needed a day to feel like a person.  To read for myself.  To do some writing that was not connected to work.  And then we got a snow day.  My personal retreat: turning the house into a quiet bastion of reflective solitude now suffered the din of Michael Scott’s inane banter as my son and his girlfriend were here, joyfully, spending time together under the spell of another Office binge.  And I couldn’t have been happier.  We stopped for bagels.  We chatted about life and shared some memories.  Played with the dog. I made them more snacks.  I was immediately aware that days like this are outnumbered by days like the one I had planned—so I was grateful.

Experiences Quote.jpg

After discussing it at the Freethinkers’ Media Club meeting the previous night, I did finally finish reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I lamented to those in attendance, my husband included, I had 80 pages to go and on the drive home, vowed to make it my priority that day.  It was better than I thought it would be—particularly the ending.  In her final paragraph, she addresses connecting, communicating, and growing—things we all need to do to “become”.  I cried at the end—not only for empathetic reasons, but for the civility and dignity she and her husband brought to the institution of the White House.

The night before I finished the book, social media pages were congested with images of the Clemson ball players’ fast food “celebration”.  I found it heartbreaking on so many levels.  For the boys—cheated out of an honor.  For myself as an American—cheated out of authentic global representation.  For the physical building—cheated out of joyful, lasting images that would reflect our nation’s values and hospitality…and more.  Then to have the current president using them as political-message pawns in the government shut down… I wondered: what kind of “becoming” does that signal?

Centering my thoughts, my eyes wandered to the Joseph Campbell quote we have hanging in our kitchen, “Follow your bliss.”  Ed and I have been talking about this quite a bit lately.  Are we living our best lives?  Are we making decisions, daily, that reflect our core beliefs.  Do these decisions manifest in how we spend our precious resources of time and energy—physical, mental, and emotional. Where are the leaks?  How do we seal them up?  Are we in sync—as individuals and as a couple?

That day was National Religious Freedom Day—a recognition that holds a great deal of meaning to me.  Our pluralistic society is something I value: out of many, one.  I have hope that the more connecting I facilitate, communicating I do, and growing I attempt, the closer I can be to following my bliss…and truly becoming.  I can be responsible for only me.  If people choose to share part, or all, of this journey with me, so much the better—that choice belongs to them.  I find myself really aware of opening up to future, unforeseen intersections.  Saying yes to the to new and unknown—allowing people, events, ideas, places, and things to really shape me while I learn.  Especially learning to recognize that the difference between an interruption and an opportunity is more about how I welcome it.

My Own Becoming and Campbell’s “Following Your Bliss”