Don’t Retire, ReFire: Enjoy your independence

By Gail Supplee Tatum, Columnist, The Times

As you make your plans to celebrate Independence Day on the Fourth of July, what do you look forward to the most? What is the first thing you think of? Do you think about how happy you are because you have the day off? Do you think about the many barbeques you’ve been invited to which you’ll attempt to make them all? Do you look forward to seeing your family and friends in a relaxed, fun atmosphere? Do the fireworks thrill you? On the other hand, are you someone who thinks deeply about the meaning of Independence Day, as well as the meaning and origin of the other holidays and not the symbols that each holiday has?   

Do you think about the meaning of the word independence? Perhaps you look at it in the historical sense.

The dictionary defines independence as the state or quality of being independent, freedom from the control, influence, support, aid or the like, of others.

Some synonyms are self-government, self-rule, separation, self-determination, sovereignty, autonomy, freedom and liberty. It can also mean self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

These definitions illustrate how individual and internal, if you will, independence is.

Independence, although by definition, means freedom, is not absent of having attachments and the responsibility to be accountable and demonstrate integrity.

In delving into this topic it became evident that it lends itself to several quotes. So here goes…

Horace says, Rule your mind or it will rule you.” As a Roman poet, he was able to make his point with few words. He’s expressing that we must declare independence from our own minds when our thoughts get away from us with negative thinking.

Mark Twain says, Independence is loyalty to one’s best self and principles, and this is often disloyalty to the general idols and fetishes.” We mustn’t depart from our dreams but we should always keep a clear and focused mindset.

Walt Disney’s amazing quote says, “Mickey Mouse is, to me, a symbol of independence. He was a means to an end.” This quote illustrates resilience and tenacity. It was certainly not an easy road for Walt Disney during those years before Mickey Mouse was created. It did not happen overnight. There were many pitfalls, obstacles and discouragement, but Walt Disney kept at it because, once created, he believed in Mickey Mouse and wasn’t going to give up on him and he didn’t give up. What if he had? What if it got too hard? Think about life without Mickey, Minnie and all of the characters who have since been created and who live in the magical world of Disney, all over the country. I can’t imagine a world without those lovable characters! This is a perfect example of how, sometimes, it is right before the breakthrough where the strong urge to give up could take over. If you ever find yourself on the verge of giving up on your dream, remember Walt Disney, think of the mouse and keep going!

Although independence is an individual state, we still need people around us. If you have a special person in your life, you can build a life together, yet still be independent in your individual thoughts and beliefs. On the other hand, if you live alone, there are people in your life who care for you and want to spend time with you as each of you rejoice in your individuality.  Simply described in this quote by Malcolm Forbes – “Diversity: the art of thinking independently together.”

Two wonderful quotes that depict how we, as Americans, should view our heritage. Franklin D. Roosevelt says, “In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”

Brigham Young reminds us, “True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right.”

In closing, whatever you do on the Fourth of July, if nothing else, celebrate your independence.  It is the gift we receive, living in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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