I bought my son some fireworks today. Not some of those weak little packs of smoke bombs and snakes sold in gas stations and marinas of years past. Instead we went to a store so large it had shopping carts out front.
Where helpful men with tattoos and earrings (wearing all black, of course) cued up YouTube videos on their iPad to play on the 40" HDTV to demonstrate the various virtues of $25 aerial display kits. Black Cats and bottle rockets stand shoulder to shoulder with biodegradable sparklers and fountain fireworks with alluring names like Bad Influence. The packaging featuring army tanks and seductive pin-up girls. I spent $65 (American Express) for an assortment that included a unicorn rocket for Miss, a star-spangled rocket for Son, a large assortment of bottle rockets, and a half brick of black cats to share with my brother. The offering of this shared, childhood thrill in an attempt to reach across the gulf that grew between us in the 13 years of parenthood that kept our heads down and and our attention focused only on the next demand.
Son is thrilled, grinning ear-to-ear, as he carries our haul to the car. Back home the boys eagerly take to the bottle rockets and are soon being schooled by my brother on how to improvise with them safely. They light them off until the lighter expires or boredom ensues. I anticipate tomorrow when I can show them that I, too, can play with the Black Cats. I said to my brother today that I believe our minds have the power to manifest changes in the world. I know it to be true because I have become a different person from how I started out. I never expected to find myself dramatically adapting and changing as my children grew and I tried to figure out how to meet their needs and guide them to their best selves. I feel as though the outer layer of myself has been burned away in the fire of parenthood and I am now rising from the ashes: a phoenix.
I was the anti-gun mother. But yesterday I found myself freely consenting for Son to go squirrel hunting with Cousin and his pellet gun. Cousin is learning to deer hunt with his father and Son is filled with testosterone, curiosity, and envy while learning to manage it all.
I find I can allow my son the experience of the squirrel hunt. They race off and spot their first target. The boys taking turns to shoot. I must walk away as the squirrel is hit and injured; the screams to difficult for me to endure. Later I hear the tale of finishing it off with the aid of Dad. Their pride. The learning. An unforgettable experience that two cousins share. They have been given an assignment and they take their responsibility, and weapon, seriously.
I have changed my attitudes and opinions through thought, insight and will. And because of this shift, the world has changed around me. My 13-year-old son is hunting squirrel and shooting off fireworks without my supervision. And I am relaxed and not worrying, watching from the background.
If my thoughts can change so much of the world around me by how I act and react, it seems reasonable to envision thoughts having an impact on the world without me having to do anything more than think them.
Today I declare my independence from preconceived notions of who I am and who others are. I will strive to live each moment open to possibility. Today we will celebrate our nation's independence with family and friends, boating and bar-b-ques, s'mores and fireworks. And tomorrow I will celebrate with my son, who for this brief time away from life in the city, can indulge in the rites of manhood, unrestrained.