As I’m enjoying some quiet morning time on this, the 4th of July, I’m aware of a certain theme that has been bubbling up for me lately. I know by now that this usually means there is a blog installment coming. It percolates for a while, seemingly sending hints for me over a period of days or weeks.
It popped up when my brother and sister-in-law and their kids were in the midst of moving these last days. I thought of it when a woman I know lost her long-beloved dog last week and then adopted a sweet new baby-dog a few days later. It occurred to me when a woman who is grieving the recent loss of her Dad was out shopping for her new grand-son or another friend who has lost her mom was now babysitting her new grand-daughter. It returned again last night when I was enjoying dinner with friends I’ve known since high school. It came to mind when a friend packed her car and headed for another state to go see her kids. When I realized that, in the last month, there were six houses in play in my group. So many of “my people” moving and transitioning.
The steady footfalls coming softly but always coming. The feeling that becomes true, over time.
The United States of America, on this 4th of July, didn’t just happen. The people I had dinner with last night who I’ve considered family now for more than thirty years….that didn’t just happen. My brother’s family with their two fantabulous kids from Russia didn’t just happen. All the houses in play this month didn’t just happen.
We make them.
We recognize the needs and the things that are lacking. We realize the holes and measure the missing. We don’t just let our lives happen.
We make them.
In all our lives, we suffer changes and losses that are difficult and uncomfortable. The losses are about people who leave in so many ways, pets who die, jobs that end, health that fails, dreams that fall, expectations that go quiet…
For so many, that’s it. Game over. The one ideal didn’t work out and so that’s the end. They go on, but only in calendar days. Months. Years.
For those I celebrate today, they go on, yes. But in different directions, with blank slates and fresh new sticks of chalk. Throw out the blueprints.
Your country doesn’t serve its people? You move to a place where you can live as you dream. You have trouble starting a family? Go find your kids waiting for you in Russia. Your dog daughter died? There’s another one waiting anxiously to be rescued. You live in a place that has winter 8 months out of the year and you suffer from SAD? Sell your home and move South. Your kids have left the nest and have moved all over the country? Pack the trunk and off you go.
Our lives don’t just happen to us. We make them.
And when they burn down and flame out…when they scuff knees and break hearts….when they find dead-ends and come up lacking….
That doesn’t make us victims of anything except living and life.
There isn’t just one way to make a living. There isn’t just one house to call home. There isn’t just one way to have children or to create a family. Our dreams and our dream lives all look different. My family doesn’t just consist of the people who grew up in my childhood home. Our kids came from a different mom, from a different country, from a different relationship, from an animal shelter…
There isn’t just one life. There isn’t just one version of happiness. Not just one job, one love, one path.
You don’t get extra points for staying miserable. For refusing options. For just surviving and bearing and suffering.
Life isn’t supposed to be about another glum turn in the hopeless parade.
Today is the Fourth of July. Independence Day.
And today I cheer and celebrate all the people I know, all of you out there, who are making lives and making families and making happiness and making success. All of you who are filling holes and making decisions. Rolling up their sleeves and making better.
Enjoy those fireworks tonight and see, in them, the roots of a young country so many years ago. Glance over your shoulder as you pull out of that home one last time and then look forward to a new adventure. See a new definition of family in all the people and pets who, over time, you have brought into your lives to make them more whole, more fun, warmer and with more love.
Happy, fun, successful lives don’t just happen.
We make them.
Light a sparkler for that. For all that is bright and right. You did that. And you did that.