I composed this letter last night on July 4th and sent it to a long list of friends. I share my thoughts with you here on the blog since you are also a long list of friends.
On this Independence Day evening, I've been reflecting on the meaning of this national holiday, so I thought I'd compose this short epistle to wish you, not a Happy Independence Day, but a Thankful Independence Day. Sure, we should be happy for our Independence, but even more, we should be thankful for it.
Exactly 238 years ago a group of people gathered in Philadelphia, put their lives and fortunes on the line and agreed upon and signed a document informing the King of England that we, as a people, were declaring our independence from the tyranny and taxation imposed upon those who braved the challenges of coming to a new world and carving out a new life and society based on liberty, personal freedom and certain inalienable rights.
Nearly six years ago I chose to change my lifestyle to live free, on my own terms, replacing a more traditional, mainstream lifestyle embraced by the vast majority of U.S. citizens. Living free simply means I chose to live simply, minimally and economically. I am thriving and living a comfortable, fulfilling, happy life while not needing and using most of my resources and those assets I have retained.
I am traveling this country in a "tiny house" of my own design and construction built into a 17-foot van providing approximately 50 sq. ft. to live in. You might say it's my own version of a modern Conestoga wagon. One of the best features is that I have no mortgage or payments for "My McVansion." It is my "magic carpet" that is taking me from sea to shining sea, gulf to great lakes, over mountains and across great plains. I travel the "Blue Highways," those roads that were once our national road infrastructure, but have been mostly abandoned and replaced by high-speed interstate highways where everyone always seems to be in a hurry to get somewhere. I drive the speed limit, take my time, and enjoy discovering nature's beauty that I've never taken the time to experience before. I travel through small towns, villages and hamlets and meet the hard working, patriotic people who live in these places and learn about them, their families, their lives and what's important to them.
Yesterday I was in the town of Bedford Falls. Remember George Bailey from the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life?" Well, the real name of the town that Bedford Falls was modeled after is Seneca Falls, New York. In the past week I went to an American League AAA minor league baseball game, was a guest on a legacy radio station in Syracuse, New York, revisited my alma mater, Syracuse University and toured the two Newhouse School of Public communications buildings that have been added since I attended 46 years ago. I enjoyed all kinds of great food and visited with a fellow grad school classmate and his wife, John and Pat Hottenstein, who also was the minister who married my former wife, Cynthia and me. I even had the great pleasure and privilege of seeing their daughter, Kirsten, who I bounced on my knee 46 years ago. Then I met Kirsten's daughter and three month old granddaughter who I bounced on my knee. I took a wonderful photo of the four generations. How time has flown.
This is just a small part of why I'm having a Thankful Independence Day as I sit in my tiny house on wheels in Ithaca, New York tonight. Earlier. I enjoyed the day driving down along the western side of Seneca Lake (one of the beautiful Finger Lakes). I drove around Watkins Glen, New York and went over to the Watkins Glen Speedway where I shot pictures and a little video of Grand Prix cars doing time trials at 150 to 200 miles per hour. Oh, and while I've been enjoying my version of the American Dream and living free, I accomplished some audio production projects for a long time friend and client. All this because of those men in 1776, all the men and women who paved the way since then and those brave men and women who sacrificed their lives and limbs to secure the independence and freedom of this great nation
I do have some concerns about the future of our country and what we're leaving behind for our grandchildren and great grandchildren. I'm including a link to an article that spells out where The American Dream may be in some trouble.
I hope your day with family and friends was much more meaningful than just a day off from work, hot dogs, hamburgers and fireworks. I also hope you are living free and independently, as you define this for yourself, and are happy and fulfilled. God Bless You and God Bless America.
But, just because we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th doesn't mean that we shouldn't celebrate a Thankful Independence Day every day of the year. For all our problems in this country, I still consider myself singularly lucky to have been born here rather than in most other parts of the world. Think about it.