True faith and courage are like a kite – an opposing wind raises them higher. – Buddha
Summer begins, and I see change. A sea change.
I can feel it on the horizon… this wind that blows over the seascape of my mind. This summer wind is both ominous in a weird sense and tantalizing. It brings with it a mysterious sense of anticipation and a little bit of dread. It’s a nudging you can’t quite explain. What is it behind this ocean breeze? Is a storm brewing? Or, am I looking forward to … as my sailing daughter would put it…fair winds and following seas?
You know the marker events that tend to stop you in your tracks. I’ve been recounting some in recent columns. This year, the marker events seem to coincide with something bigger than the event itself. Things seem to be lining up for significant change. Am I imagining this? My intuition tells me I’m not. My heart tells me a new cycle is beginning; and I’m in for an interesting, and probably wild ride.
If you look at life as a kind of amusement park, you do get to try out a lot of rides. There’s the anticipation factor, along with the dread. Dare I say fear factor? The combined feeling comes at graduations. Or your wedding. Or starting a new job. Or having a child. Or losing loved ones on the journey. We all have our life-changing events: You know you’re facing a big change and you wonder if you’re up to it. Yet, you also are eager to see what lies ahead.
I recently wrote about the importance of celebrating marker events and acknowledging them. The tradition of celebrating them can be amazing, such as my father-in-law’s absolutely amazing 100th birthday party in February. Being so busy with that, the bigger picture regarding my personal life is just now coming into focus.
The idea of being married for half a century, for instance, is finally settling in. That notion, combined with the comparison of that political time, of 1967, with this time, is proving to be catalytic. I’ve said, after this national election, that I was – inspired by last year’s Star Wars movie Rogue One – going rogue for hope. That was my vow, already six months ago. This summer I feel it more than ever. This summer, each news cycle spurs me to re-think all the levels of my life. Opinion pieces abound on the topic; so I sense that others are doing the same.
This summer isn’t so different from that summer of 1967, 50 years ago, when the Detroit riots were going on. The political landscape was unsettled; and my husband and I had embarked on the adventure of our lives – getting married. That was the summer of a sea change for us and for the nation. After all, it was the turbulent 1960s. Anxiety was in the air, just as it is now; and on the west coast, some interesting things were brewing. Saturday Evening Post writer Cabel Newhaus – in the July-August issue – takes a look at the 50th anniversary of what began that summer in California:
In the summer of 1967 in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, an idealistic counterculture took root and grew across the nation. Now, 50 years later, the Post looks back at the Summer of Love, how it changed the culture of the ’60s, and how it continues to affect us today.
Who knew, that down through the years it would be known as “the summer of love.” or that people would still be talking about it in 2017. Here’s a quote to pique your curiosity: Today, 50 summers on, the questions remain: “What the hell was that all about? Was it, like, too far-out, bro?
Of course, we were a bit removed from the hippie scene, but here in Michigan that summer was a new beginning, a new cycle all around. Strangely, this summer feels the same. I didn’t think the mere fact of a number, like 50, would make me feel that something was different. My 50th high school and college reunions came and went without such deep feelings. But this year, I do remember how I felt in the days of both graduations. Leaving for college, then leaving my family and hometown for a life in a new place, a new job, and new friends. Often, you aren’t fully aware of the magnitude of life changes until you look in the rear view mirror.
The difference between that summer and this summer, to me, is that this time it’s not about events creating a sea change. This time, it’s not just that I’m about to experience a sea change. It’s more that I must create my own. It’s time to honor where I’ve been; it’s time to take stock; it’s time to re-think,re-start, re-imagine the next phase.
So back to the hippie article…or might it be ‘back to the future’? I can see the synchronicity of that summer rippling down the years. That was a crossroads summer; I see that now. I see how that ounterculture may have influenced me, even though I wasn’t a part of it. On this Independence Day, I was thinking of our American culture. I suppose you could say that in my heart glows a kind of counterculture. Maybe I’m just beginning to appreciate that part of myself.
Summer begins, and I ‘m thinking about patriotism. I’m thinking about the joy of what I always thought it meant to be patriotic – to be in love with what being an American means. E pluribus unum. Going rogue for hope , I hope to rediscover that feeling of my American roots. When I was growing up, I was told that those roots go back on my mom’s side to William Williams, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It’s written up in the mammoth volume of Gratiot County history.
When our daughter was heading for college, I saw a scholarship offer for Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. I called them up (no computers then). They said no one had done a history, and maybe I could be the one to do it. Ha. Too daunting, as you have to have physical proof. little I did explore in recent years made me wonder if William Williams is too common of a name; and perhaps my ancestors just dreamed up the whole thing. So I gave up.
But then, on this Independence Day, when we were fervently focusing on the Declaration – thanks to the political climate we’re inhabiting – the exploration seems all the more important. At least maybe I can get to the bottom of it. Am I, or am I not, a descendant. If not, it doesn’t matter, because I’ll have worked on my genealogy – something I’ve yet to cross off my wish list.
Would that I could wave a magic wand and, voilà, there it would be…as artfully put together as the family history on my husband’s side, done by his cousin. In any case, this summer the story of my immigrant ancestors – and the beautiful tapestry revealed – seems more intriguing than ever.
Summer 2017 is a lesson for change: restart now. I knew it the day I sat down at the computer and my anti-virus program popped up a huge window with this message: You must restart now. Compelling timing to be sure.
Make it a sea change, but make it your own. But, how do I get to there from here? It’s all easier said than done; nothing seems logical now.
Logic will take you from A to B, said Albert Einstein. Creativity will take you everywhere.
Creatively, maybe hunting down my roots is a place for me to begin this sea change. Maybe the election and all the newfound light shining on our founding fathers (and mothers) and the health of this American experiment 241 years later, is a good thing. It will be if it inspires us to hope again, to love our country and its people – in all aspects of…as we borrowed from the French… liberté, egalité, fraternité.
As for me, this French author’s words are favorites of mine: One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. ~ André Gide
So, this summer, as time marches on and 2018 calendars appear in my mailbox, I’ve given myself an assignment: Go down to the beach. Enjoy some downtime to re-think, re-imagine. It’s OK to dig your toes in the sand, to sit and relax for awhile. Let the kite float up into the breeze. Counterculture sounds a bit magical now.
The moment will naturally come to get up from your beach chair. Raise the kite higher; hang on; run with it along the shore. Hop into the boat that’s waiting for you to leave the harbor…and in your own way, to be part of the ripple effect, to be the change.