Some Thoughts On the 4th from Bob Collins

Bob Collins was the legendary morning host on WGN Radio in Chicago for many years before his untimely death in 2000. The week of Independence Day 1996, Bob shared some thoughts about the holiday and what it means for America. These words are still extremely poignant and relevant today as they were 20 years ago. It feels very appropriate to share what Bob said today. Some words have been changed to fit the times, and any italics have been added for emphasis.

[241] years ago this week, representatives from thirteen colonies spent a sweltering summer considering, discussing, debating, and acting upon, what had become an intolerable situation with the mother country. After much deliberation, this august body forged a masterful document that even now, in the [dawn] of the 21st century, defines us as Americans. These men risked their lives, their fortunes, and their personal liberty to create this cornerstone of our American democracy. “When in the course of human events…” The Declaration of Independence. [Today] we’ll all go out and spend time with our friends, and attend parades and watch fireworks to commemorate this event. We’ll all stand with our hats off and our hands over our hearts for the passing of the American flag and we’ll feel duly patriotic. We may think about our family roots and rejoice or bemoan our place in the American Dream. Then it will all be over for another year. And most of us won’t even bother to vote in an election. We’ve all heard the old saying, “You can be anything you want to be.” Perhaps you’ve also thought of it as the embodiment of the American Dream. Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a lie. A bald-faced lie. You can’t be anything, have anything, or do anything simply because you want to. What we have as Americans is the framework to make our dreams come true if we are willing to do what is necessary to make it happen. If Patrick Henry, John Hancock and their compatriots had merely wrung their hands and complained about the situation they faced, we might be still a colony of England, instead of citizens to the greatest nation on Earth. Through hard work, determination, and sacrifice, they and all the patriots of our 200+ years have shown us that we can be whatever we are willing to be. This is the American Dream.

 

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Mindful Sunburn

This is a rambling. Ranting just to say how much I am enjoying this. How can someone rant about a positive thing? All things are possible when your mindful practices end up almost tanning your hide to a crisp. Must run for shade. I have moved so much closer to the sun that it bores shining fire into my soul, setting alight a myriad of interconnected dreams and fears. The trick this time around is not to cope, but to overcome.

I immersed myself for a reason. Swimming in the air among the hazy peaks is just one of the billion countless new experiences unfolding each day. So why am I treating this like the same old thing? I must be coping. The energy was switched on all at once, almost too much to comprehend. Drowning in good vibrations is still drowning. This has been a disjointed beginning, but my head will come to the surface. I will overcome the doubts of the day.

Just sit.

Don’t worry about it. Just sit. Nothing can be done about the pillows in the sandstorm right now. While you wait you might as well just sit. Breathe. Observe. Remember. Like shedding a tear while meditating, it doesn’t mean anything.

There is a reason this happened. There is a reason why I feel this way today. There is a reason why I will be different tomorrow. I don’t think I shall ever need to know why, though I may still find out.

This is for the ancestors. This is for those who have fared far worse on this day than I have. This is for the ones who just couldn’t make it this far. This is for chance occurrences and serendipitous coincidences. For everything that lined up just right to place me where I currently sit.

Saying thank you would mean nothing. To show gratitude I must continue the path I chose. But who’s to say it didn’t choose me? Who’s to say that everything hasn’t led up to this very moment? Of course it has! Everything has always led up to this moment! Every moment! Make them count.