I chose not to seek out fireworks, this July 4th. I’ve always enjoyed the tradition and its more thoughtful meanings; but I had just said my final goodbyes to a close friend dying from cancer, and I wasn’t in a mood for celebration. I decided instead to take a silent, solo walk from my home, down through the meadow to the lake.
As soon as I stepped outside, though, I saw the fireworks of the sunset sky breaking over the butte. Not manmade, planned fireworks. Not a celebration of independence. Still, an explosion of light born in the fire of the sun, a radiant display on a scale vastly more grand than any Roman candle. It was serene in its radiance. I fell into serenity with it. I watched in awe as the rays drew patterns across the sky. I was reverent as the clouds bent ever-shifting firelight across the evening. I continued to watch the wild display until sunset at lakeside.
I was alone and independent there, in a manner of speaking. No one else was in the meadow or at the lake, and I was blessedly free. Yet aloneness is illusion, at the core; and independence is relative. I was there with the entirety of the earth, intimate with it in the moment. I was intertwined with every element of life immediately around me. I was breathing the sunset, not simply watching it. I was enfolded in the breeze off the water. I was whispered to lovingly by the ripples lapping at the shore. I was soaring with the evening birds, wondering at their experience of the same light. I was aware of our deep and constant interdependence: all of us with the earth, with each other, with the rhythms of the day. None of us could independently exist.
I also became aware that celebration and gratitude had found me—even in a mood when I didn’t seek them, and hadn’t thought I wanted them. When celebration and gratitude become habits, they find you without effort. They arrive within you, sometimes despite you.
That too is worth celebration and gratitude. So happy interdependence day, again today. There will never be a day that is any other kind.