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I’m sitting here eating a pear, wishing that my pear was a banana. My doctor has limited me to one banana every other day due to a new medication that could cause potassium build-up in my blood, resulting in the following side effects: stomach or intestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea, muscle weakness, abnormal heart rhythm, muscle paralysis, trouble breathing, heart failure and then death.
So I eat my pear today, and look forward to my banana tomorrow. I follow the rules.
While it’s Independence Day weekend and most folks are out there having picnics, eating lots of bananas, watching parades and looking forward to fireworks, most of us are also tied to certain aspects of our lives that make us so very dependent. Maybe you’re attached to a rebellious teen who you must drag everywhere with you lest he set the neighborhood on fire. Maybe you and your family are stuck in your yard this weekend instead of on a camping trip because there’s no extra money in your bank account. Maybe you’re married to a conservative, dour person who hates parades and fireworks, so as much as you’d like to strip off your clothes and streak down First Avenue flying your freak-flag high and proud, you stay home, inside your house, inside your clothes, for the jillionth year in a row.
You are not independent. You are trapped.
For me these days, outside of the pear/banana situation, I'm stuck with a list of summer chores that I’ve been carrying around with me since school let out in May. Some tasks I’ve accomplished: get 21st century phone, get prints framed and up on wall, return borrowed items before it looks like you’re a thief…start physical therapy so left leg joins your family of limbs again.
But these are just four items on a list that still contains many other very important things to do before school starts again in the fall: get rid of rust in tub before guests arrive and think you are trailer trash, replace large cardboard lampshades that people always think you made yourself, get bucket with lid so bags of cat waste do not create toxic environment on back patio. Install standing birdfeeder far away from house so birds do not continue to poop all over back patio. Replace milk crates and pile of old bricks on back patio with…um…Hire someone to remodel back patio because it looks like a bridge underpass out there. Paint over the graffiti and shoo the homeless people away.
It feels good to cross chores off a to-do list, each accomplishment like one more closed link in the chain that connects you to feeling entirely independent, free of worries. You might have termites swinging from your rafters, or a warrant for your arrest, or 50 pounds to lose. Maybe you have an addiction like a monkey on your back. I have a troupe of tiny flying monkeys in my butt swinging on my sciatic nerve and using my spinal discs as lifeboats.
We gotta get rid of these monkeys.
My hope for this Independence Day is for everyone to declare their freedom from one toxic person, one daunting chore, one nagging feeling—one aspect of your life that you’ve been hanging onto for too long. Break one link in that chain that’s holding you down. As a former student once wrote, “I mustard the courage to do it.”
Here’s to hot dogs and apple pies, good times spent with good people, night skies full of booming rainbows. When the weekend is over and we’re back to life as usual, I hope we can all say that we mustard the courage to at least tug on our chains.
Let's tug hard.