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Independence Day

by on July 4, 2015

                                                           Independence Day

                                                            by Marco M. Pardi

Note: All comments are appreciated, read, and responded to accordingly.  The comments sections for all previous articles have been opened for use.  I will certainly look forward to your comments.

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” Montaigne. (1533-1592) “Of Solitude”, Essays. 1588

Every day is independence day, when we make it so.  Of course, this is more difficult for some than for others.  And, there are those dependencies we often do not realize we have, and nurture.

My email provider notified me that my Sent-Saved cache was overloaded.  I opened it and examined the thousands of emails I had sent, and had saved in case I needed to reference or return to them.  I did not clock the time I spent simply hitting Delete, or the number of emails discarded.  Instead I enjoyed the feeling of liberation, the feeling of moving forward without the need to look back. I did ask myself why I had saved these in the first place, but even trying to answer that would have brought me back to a place where I no longer was.

I also spent uncounted minutes, maybe hours going through hard copy folders and files, manuals for work I no longer perform, articles I saved for some future use now forgotten or no longer applicable.  Sensitive materials went through my cross-cut shredder.  My recycle bin is almost too full to move.  And I have days of this yet to come.

Some might say my age is behind all this.  But I’ve been doing this periodically most of my life.  As a young child I went through several moves, having to choose what to take and what to leave.  My mother periodically helped, in her way, sweeping into my room to criticize anything I had managed to accumulate and threatening to “throw it all out.” Only a few of those sessions passed before I found myself saying – to myself, “Go ahead”.

But I’m no minimalist, despite years of moves across oceans and continents.  My daughter and I were talking recently and I affirmed to her that, when I go behind Door Number 4 I want her to have full access to my “stuff” to take whatever she pleases.  As I said that I realized she would have no use for my clothes and probably little interest in the hundreds of books I’ve kept but never re-read.  A certified and experienced SCUBA diver, she can have all the equipment I have, regulators, gauges, hard floor inflatable boats and motor, etc. Some time ago I copied all the pictures I had of her onto a CD and gave them to her, not without some concern for some of the features in the background. Her husband can have my tools, weapons, etc.  Some time ago I disposed of an expensive instrument for synchronizing multiple carburetors on the exotic cars I had over the years.  Have you seen a carburetor lately?  At least I never bought an 8 Track.

Things flow through our lives.  Where did I leave….?  The term “memento” has always been problematic for me.  I have some things I picked up in travels but I got them for their inherent value, not in the hope they would remind me of having endured that trip.  No, certainly not that.

CNN has been running a series of “Back to the Sixties” and “Back to the Seventies”.  I wouldn’t watch those for the same reason I wouldn’t listen to “Golden Oldies” on the radio. Not because most of them would be Golden Newbies to me anyway, but because I actually did hear some of those in real time. And it’s impossible to deflesh the carcass from the bones, impossible to hear the tune without reliving the context. What a horrible thought.  Memory is my Shaitan, my accuser.  I take no credit for my memory; I just have it.

Quite often, news coverage of people who have lost their homes to fires or other disasters shows them saying physical things can be replaced, lives cannot. To a large extent, that is true.  Of course, people often grieve over lost photo albums, especially of their children growing up.  As a father, I can understand that. But how about people, living people – not dead ones?

Many of us recall friends, even “friends for life” we had in years gone by.  Somehow, as time passed and we went on through life they faded, some slowly, some not so.  “Whatever happened to old……….?” we ask.  Here again, memory is not universally equally distributed.  I have encountered well remembered people from my past whom I am sure truly had little or no recollection of me.  What surprised me most was not their memory, or lack thereof; I was surprised by my reaction of relief, my feeling of having gotten free of that relationship and any obligations or implications it may have once carried.  Cold?  Not entirely.  In many cases I was pleased they had gone on with a life perhaps so interesting I had become just another piece of confetti in their ticker tape parade.  What must that be like, I wonder.

Then, there are those people who, as surely as substance addicts, cling to memories of people who have long passed through their lives and gone on to other things, to other ways of being.  On rare occasions when I have met with someone from long ago they sometimes said, “You haven’t changed a bit.”  How should I take that?  Are they merely pronouncing a social nicety, or is their perception really that poor?

And there are those people from whom we simply had to split, to ensure our own survival.  The so-called toxic relationships.  I have had friends who were addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs.  Striving to avoid enabling, I have tried to help them.  But just as I had to let go of my daughter on her first sans training wheels bicycle ride,  I had to let them know there is a limit to my participation if they are ever to ride on their own, if they are ever to be independent.  My daughter made it through without a scrape.  I can’t say the same for some of the others.

As I walked my daughter down the aisle I had a familiar feeling.  Although throughout the subsequent years I would have dropped everything to help her, and still would, I stood at that altar with a sense of relief.  Her mother long consigned to unpleasant history (no, I don’t have a photo), I had the feeling of sharing responsibility with her husband, even taking a very quiet backseat to be called upon only when needed by both of them.  As she attained her professional career, had her first child, and her nuclear family solidified I felt the confidence I felt so many years ago watching those little legs pump those pedals and knowing she would be just fine.

I’m not entirely happy with everyone’s sense of independence.  But any of us could trot out a litany of other people’s actions which aggrieve us.  As I watch the Earth revolve, giving so many people the illusion of “sunset”, I am already preparing for a night of other people’s “independence”.  

If anyone doubts intelligence is not distributed on a Bell Shaped Curve, please come to the SouthEast on the 4th of July.  SKEW is the operant word here.  Georgia has this year legislated that people can blow up pretty much whatever they want, just about wherever they want, until 02:00hrs – that’s 2:00 a.m. July 5th.  I have already started my canine companion on pharmaceuticals to help him through the night.  I find interesting the fact that many of the celebrants are people who would proudly send their children off to war but have no sense whatsoever of the effects fireworks have on their children when they return, many with PTSD which has gone unreported and undiagnosed for fear of stigma.

Due to family circumstances I’ve spent the last few Independence Days alone with my dog and am doing so again.  Last year, even while it was illegal, neighbors set off explosives in the streets that actually shook my windows.  Many of them sounded exactly like incoming heavy mortar rounds.  They will be far worse this year, everything short of Claymores now legal.

These sounds seem to have morphed into an entirely new meaning in the minds (please note: I’m being kind here) of the celebrants; they are not the sounds of ordnance designed to fragment and rip bodies to shreds, concuss and destroy internal organs including traumatic brain injury, cause bleeding from ears, eyes and nose;  they are now sounds of some kind of accomplishment, some kind of worked for orgasm re-affirming manhood.  An orgasmic Gotcha!

Born genetically deficient (I missed the Flight part of the Fight or Flight Response), I am not one to slide under the bed whimpering; I’m one to gear up and take on the assailants.  Even heavy as my armament is, it would not be noticed on tonight’s streets.  But the aftermath would be hard to explain.  So, I exercise great restraint, one might even call it independence.

But this year I will not be alone.  I belong to a closed access web site for people who have been through combat, both in military and civilian applications.  Already the chat traffic is building up for coping with the relentless demonstrations of low I.Q. that will go on through the night.      

So, tonight I will relinquish some of my independence as I join with my peers and express my feelings so as to not act on them.

 

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6 Comments
  1. Marco, I thought of you and Plato last night as I was watching my niece’s neighbors compete with the city’s offerings to light up the night sky with pretty, sparkling lights. I will admit that I like the sight, but wish it could come without the soundtrack which must be so much like combat to those who have experienced those moments of terror. One particular incoming shot sounded much as I imagine a mortar shell must, reminding me that this was the sound that my father heard just before he was blown into the air to lose half his limbs. It kind of brings it home.

    As for the decluttering, and especially the electronic variety, I’m right there with you. I periodically clear out my inbox, sending what I need to keep into files, and deleting wholesale what I do not.

    I am halfway through my own self-imposed time frame for ridding myself of the things, and even people, which no longer serve a purpose in my life. I am nowhere near halfway through the process, but I have discovered that the more I toss, the easier it gets. It’s a theme that seems to be working its way through my life right now, and it is most welcome.

  2. Thank you, Rose. When I think of you and your father I again see how the violence of war extends into generations. The effects on your growing young mind were formative and permanent.

    Like you, I’ve got much more clearing to do. And I agree, it gets easier as you go along.

    • I wish you could have known my father; he really was something special. His injuries happened more than a year before my parents were married, and fully two years before I was born; and, yes, they affected the rest of his life, and the lives of all who cared about him.

      He volunteered for the army during the Korean conflict; he volunteered for guard duty on the night he was hit with that mortar shell. He told the medics to help the others first after the battle was over. For that act, he received a Silver Star, as well as a Purple Heart for the wounds. He was a true patriot who never stopped loving his country. The fourth of July was one of his favorite holidays.

      I never had a father who was physically whole. The joke is that I was six years old before I knew not every father took off his leg to go swimming. He never let his handicap stop him from trying to do whatever he wanted, and he accomplished most of what he attempted. My lessons were this: handicapped does not mean disabled; you never know what you can do until you try. Also, I truly do not see handicap, physical or mental, it’s always been a part of my normal.

      I will never know what my life might have been, or even if I would have been, if my father had not volunteered that night. I am fortunate to have had parents who were strong enough to take what life gave them and make something special of it. Many people would have given up, but because he didn’t, neither will I.

      • That is so beautifully said, Rose. I know many people read this blog without ever commenting. So I take comfort in knowing many will see your words.

        Yes, I very much would have enjoyed knowing your father. But at least through you we can benefit from his example and from the perspectives you have gained from knowing him.

  3. I have never experienced a 4th of July nor any other `booming` night, and you just made me realize how fortunate I am.
    I am not fond of big sounds in general (although I do like listening to thunder) and try to avoid them, also because my life is usually full of furry four-leggies 🙂 .
    Marco, I must say that this ” Born genetically deficient (I missed the Flight part of the Fight or Flight Response),” for some reason really made me laugh (and I needed it !!).
    Somehow I could just see you in my mind and I found what I saw awesome !
    Thanks for the always fascinating articles !

    • Thank you, FOAL. I’m so glad your computer problems seem fixed and you can participate again. I hope things are improving for you on all fronts. Marco

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