I told a friend recently that I can’t find the passion with which to jump into anything. I have felt paralyzed and frozen, unable to move in any particular direction with the enthusiasm I used to muster. I became panicked that this was my future, that maybe it was an age thing, that perhaps the Universe was yelling “Get off the stage” and using the proverbial hook to phase me out.
Then, last night, an incredible thing happened. I found my joy in fireworks. It hadn’t left me after all. While I whimpered on life’s stage, my joy was still waiting in the wings.
After a year of amygdala messages that sent my heart racing and the confirmation bias that had me looking for every place a germ might jump on me, I think I became a bit of a Doomsdayer. I spent my days online, trying to locate the most effective mask, hiding extra paper towel rolls in the garage, and looking for information on how long my family could survive on Lean Cuisine dinners and Chex Mix.
My brain found a comfort zone in COVID, a place that I could worry a lot without venturing out the front door. The good news of a vaccine lifted me temporarily, until I fell back into my “happy” place of fear. Then I had an epiphany on the fourth of July.
My husband and I spent several hours last night listening to the incredible number of fireworks going off in our neighborhood. I found myself trying to stay excited while my doomsday brain warned me, repeatedly, that perhaps our neighborhood was under attack. But I let those thoughts go by as we watched celebrations on the television and simultaneously ducked when our neighbors set off what sounded like a repeating canon.
We refused to be afraid, because we knew the sights and sounds reflected our celebration of freedom.
Freedom from our houses, our masks (if you are fully vaccinated), and freedom from fear of catching a disease because we touched an Amazon package that a perfectly innocent employee recently delivered. Freedom from the dread when we heard friends or relatives had COVID, and the concern over the exhausted healthcare workers around the world.
While we know the battle continues, and there will always be more to fight, last night we needed to cheer. We watched the Macy’s July 4th event, and smiled as people held their children and flags in the air with a look of “Oh my gosh, can you believe it? We’re out here together!” Last night the music was prettier, the performances more emotional, and the light from the fireworks more illuminating.
I know some of you have animals who hated the fireworks, and I’ll go back to being annoyed by them next year. But this year, we needed an evangelistic experience. And when the Macy’s celebration in New York played “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” I felt my courage grow five times its normal size.
When they played “The Rainbow Connection,” I held out my hand to my couch-sitting husband and we danced, smiling into each other’s necks, squeezing each others hands, and emitting one collective sigh of relief.
It takes courage to face our storms with determination and to look for the good in things. We have plenty of days to be angry and tired, but right now, if you’ll forgive me, I think we allow ourselves some happy time. I think we take the stage and dance with our family members and friends and hold our children up so they can see that no matter how dark the storm might be, they do not have to stay afraid.
Because, collectively, we will keep finding our way to the light. Last night, the light of hope lit up our skies and reminded us that no matter how much we battle each other, we are in this together. Take some time and let that light sink into your soul and celebrate the fact that we walked through the storm with our collective head held high. Enjoy the golden sky of freedom. Our collective heart and soul deserves it.