A Declaration of Independence

I love this idea from Crescent Dragonwagon: Each 4th of July, consider, “What would I like independence from this year?”

I’ve thought about it for days, however, and I really struggled to com up with anything. I think it’s because I self-helped myself nearly to death as a thirty-something, always doing something for 20 minutes a day, or 3 pages every morning. But how many things can you do for 20 minutes a day before wide swaths of time are dedicated to the idea that you need to do more, be more, think more—and weigh less?

At some point I swore them all off, and since then I have been reluctant to make any grand plans—a shame, really, since apparently the quick route to success as a memoirist is to do something, anything, for one year and then write a book about it. I was so disappointed to learn after turning over My Year of Meat at the bookstore that it was a novel, not a diary.

The good thing is that I am a lot more accepting of myself. Life gets in the way a lot more than it did even 10 years ago, and I hate setting myself up to fail by making a promise that I will write a blog post or write down all food consumed every day. Sometimes giving up on a grand scheme and tucking into bed with a book is the best freedom of all.

Still when I try to think of a specific intention for this year, my mind still goes there, to the programs and routines and “every day without fail” that feels much more like a prison

I think what I would most like independence from this year, then, is tomorrow. Today I can write a blog post; tomorrow, who knows? Today I can sit down for lunch instead of a PMS-driven feast of peanut butter covered pretzels; tomorrow, we’ll see. Today I’ll sit and watch my breath when I find the time, whether or not that same time will be good tomorrow.

It’s funny: some days all I want is more tomorrows. This week: two more friends with cancer. I look at my children, my husband, the unfinished business, and think, “Please, please, many many more tomorrows.”

But that can deprive you of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness just as surely as days and weeks measured out in 20-minute blocks. Maybe even more so.

What do you want to be independent from this year? What petty tyrant needs to sent across the ocean so you can let freedom ring?

Note: Years ago I purchased and absorbed, sponge-like, much of CD’s Passionate Vegetarian, possibly the hugest cookbook I own. I rediscovered her as a tweeter and blogger who often writes about midlife, and writing, and a little about death. And her midlife is further along than my midlife, so it’s like having a little lantern swaying ahead of me, farther down the path. (Kind of like how I enjoy having a husband 6 months older, just clearing the brush a little for my next birthday.)


About mina

Like a rock: sometimes hard, sometimes crumbly, occasionally brilliant, sometimes dense.

Posted on July 9, 2011, in advice, body, mind hacks, questions. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Pain. I’d like to be independent of pain.

  2. I declare independence from “shoulds.” Mostly the self-imposed kind, as they have the sharpest claws and crappiest attitudes. Shrugging off as many “shoulds” as possible might just let me live in this ordinary, blessed moment. I may go celebrate with peanut butter and pretzels, gluten-free of course. It’s hard to shrug off every damn “should.” sigh

  3. Well said, Laura!

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