I am the 4th of July Scrooge. No secrets, no lies. I admit I am all for honoring historical events and independence, but this holiday has taken a celebratory turn that I simply loathe. I wasnâ€™t always a grump over it, though. While growing up, this was actually a pretty exciting time! Smack in the middle of summer freedom, weâ€™d venture out in the heat for parades, picnics, family gatherings, and (of course)Â fireworks. The whole family would pile in the van and head out on old country roads to who-knows-where. Weâ€™d haul our coolers packed with ice cold soda, spread out our blankets, and play games while we waited impatiently for dusk to come and the show to begin. When that firstÂ *POP* finally declared the magical moment our eyes were glued to the sky until the grand finale. From there, fireworks set the sky on fire and the explosions were so dramatic I could feel them shake the ground and reverberate through my heart.
Yep, I had a good time.
Of course, as a kidÂ this night was the only night you could see the fireworks. Thatâ€™s what made it special. â€śWhere should we go this year? Who do you think will have the best show?â€ť It was always a best guess toss-up, but we would flip a coin and follow our fate. We planned for it, we anticipated it, and we were prepared for it.
Iâ€™m going to sound old here with my â€śback-in-the-dayâ€ť storytelling, but â€śnow-a-daysâ€ť it seems like the show will never ever ever ever ever ever ever end and it has me jumping out of my skin. On a walk last week I nearly had a heart attack when a firework unexpectedly went off across the street from me. Shaking from adrenaline I had to wonder, is this the new norm? Maybe itâ€™s just our neighborhood, but recently Iâ€™ve been soothed to sleep by the â€śare those gun shots?!â€ť lullaby that plays out nightly every year the few weeks before and after Independence Day. Hooraaaaayâ€¦Humbug.
On a walk again last night there wasnâ€™t a â€śpopâ€ť to be heard (yet). Amid my happy calm I noticed a firefly blinking its way along my path. I smiled, thinking this was my best version of fireworks. I thought back to the first time I had caught a lightening bug. Long afterÂ all my cousins had givenÂ up and gone off to findÂ alternate entertainment,Â I finally had one blinking its soft glow in my carefully cupped hands. I scrambled into my grandparentâ€™s house and when I found my mom I exclaimed, â€śLook what I got!â€ť I slowly opened my hands and almost screamed in disgust at the ugly black beetle that was crawling on my skin. â€śEw,â€ť my mom said. â€śGet that out of here!â€ť I was completely baffled. This wasnâ€™t the magical fairy-bug I had caught! How could it be so beautiful and so ugly all at once? From then on I enjoyed the lightening bugs from afar, appreciating their beauty without encroaching on their less favorable side.
So this year my fireworks are lightening bugs. Instead of throwing away the ugly beetle, Iâ€™ll let it hang around so I can enjoy what it still has to offer. I will carve up and devour a watermelon, appreciate time with family from out of town, and honor the enjoyment otherâ€™s are experiencing through traditional celebration. When the uglier side creeps up on me andÂ I canâ€™t fall asleep from the noise or smoke is clouding the streets Iâ€™ll put on an earplug/headphone combo, kick back with a good book, and enjoy the comfort in my sealed and air-conditioned home.
When the only thoughts and actions you can change are your own, what do you do? Whether 4th of July or other, what do you do when you are introduced to or submersed in a tradition that causes you stress, anxiety, and frustration? How do you transform what could be a toxic situation (to mind, body, or spirit) into something that is tolerable or even uniquely enjoyable for you?
For tips on how to transform your situation (perception, reaction, awareness,Â energetic approach, and more), check out our books on spiritual empowerment.