“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.” ― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
Plus, we really like to blow stuff up. I mean, we REALLY like to blow stuff up. The bigger, the brighter, the louder, the better. I don’t know how it is where you live, but my neighbors have already started, much to my chagrin. I’m an early riser. These posts don’t write themselves, after all. Being that by 4:30 AM I’m usually up and slinging various curses at whatever piece of furniture upon which I’ve stubbed a toe, I typically can’t help falling asleep around 10:00 each evening. This week, however, my neighbors have taken to random acts of patriotic celebration just a wee bit early. Their timing is perfect; just as I’m about to doze off, BOOM! Blowing stuff up is a time-honored means of celebrating our country’s Independence. Folks get upset when one complains.
We also like to take this time to brag about how great America is and tout all our accomplishments over the past 239 years. Nothing wrong with that, either, though one might argue that the list is getting shorter rather than longer. As the world changes, military and economic powers inevitably come and go in terms of superiority and influence. We do well to be proud of our country, but should be cautious that we don’t allow that pride to blind us to our own shortcomings and the need for continued progress on more issues than I have space to list here. Flying an American flag means little when beneath that flag there are still people starving, homeless, and relegated to second-class citizenship for any reason.
By now you are likely asking what any of this has to do with today’s photo. Provocative, isn’t it? I chose this picture because if there is one place where personal independence has exploded it is with our sexuality. We have gone beyond occasional expressions of one inclination or another to fully embracing who we are, who we choose to love, and how we choose to express that love. We have also tossed out the window the reliance on old stereotypes and are beginning to let who and what we are in the bedroom extend to more of our lives outside that space. Look at the picture and you see a young woman who is very much in charge of the moment, exercising her independence in a very personal way.
Personal independence takes many different forms and what is appropriate and necessary for one may not fit another. Independence for a child is being able to go to the restroom on their own. Independence for the elderly may be caring for themselves in their own home. Independence for a wounded warrior may be the ability to stand on prosthetic legs after losing theirs to an improvised exploding device. Independence is being able to exercise the right to vote without unnecessary rules getting in the way. Independence is being able to proudly say I am who I am and no one can tell me to be different. This is the independence worth celebrating. Fireworks optional.