My Dear Friends and Family,
This past week one of my daughters sent me this video of Jon Batiste performing “FREEDOM” on the Colbert Show. (I have included it below.)
As I watched, I felt I was transported to a Gospel Church moment. Batiste, who has long been Steven Colbert’s band leader is Black and Beautiful and moves like a dream. The song was a totally infectious experience and I think I played and danced to it several times. My daughter was right when she said it was a joyous happening to be shared. And so I thought of all of you, my dear friends and family.
As I got ready to send it out, I started thinking about the name of the song and Batiste’s definition of the word, Freedom. Being Black and Beautiful, he wrote the song from his perspective of the word. I get that. I understand that. I applaud that.
However, I might sing and dance to his song Freedom from an entirely different perspective. Along with oh, so many of my fellow beings, I could shout and dance out my freedom from a year of Covid Pandemic isolation.
And as I continued my thought line, the lyrics of another song crept into my consciousness…
Words, words, words
I’m so sick of words
First from him now from you
Is that all you blighters can do
If you think Freedom is one thing, and I think it’s another, how do we communicate? In truth, it’s like we are all speaking a foreign language in an attempt to find a path to understanding. I thought about confusion in communications around three very important words…
What I wanted most in my life was to be KNOWN. If you know me, you’ll love me. Now, don’t yell on me. I was young and I was desperate. One important slice of this equation was missing. If I didn’t know me, how was anyone else supposed to know me? When I was a student and fiancée, I defined Freedom as escape. The only way for me to be free was to escape home and family. Unfortunately, early in my life, my courage was limited to making a fool of myself on stage. In the 1950’s the approved way to leave home was to get married. Marriage equaled Freedom. Twenty-seven years later Freedom equaled Divorce. Go figure!!!
At different stages of my life, Freedom meant something else.Today, I’m not sure if my mortality has increased my vision, but I am open to most everyone’s interpretation of Freedom. Except, of course, if their freedom takes away my freedom. This is a no-no.
I think it is inherent, dare I say it, on a cellular level most of us want to be known. It takes a great deal of courage to be known. I have a sneaking suspicion that fear wipes out that courage. This makes me believe you cannot be known without being FREE.
First I shall tell you, growing up in my family my ability to survive was based on how well I could lie. From the womb, I was an actress, so pretending (that’s the polite word for lie), was very easy for me.
I shall admit, I had a lot of help from the adult community. How many times were you told, don’t tell mama, don’t tell poppa, if that’s your sister on the phone, tell her I’m not here… and on and on the requests go. I’m not accusing anyone. Goodness knows it’s an accepted social practice… the little white lie. But as a child, it’s difficult to discriminate the social lie from, “I did not lose Mother’s engagement ring that she was saving to pawn because she needed money to pay into her Christmas Savings Account for your presents so you don’t get any this year.”
I think about storm troopers throwing open the door and shouting out, ”Are you Jewish?” What would you do? I for one do not know. Of course, I’d like to think I would proudly stand up and do the honorable thing, but isn’t that the question? What is honorable? To survive or not to survive. Furthermore, in the scheme of life, he or she who casts the first stone could break a window and then what??? I do not feel the need to lie anymore. This is a good thing. And frankly, I don’t have a lot of patience with those that continue to lie. Nothing really is that important. As long as I follow the Golden Rule… Do Unto Others as you would have Others Do Unto you… I don’t think I have to. In someone’s wisdom (I wish I knew who)… THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE. BUT FIRST IT REALLY PISSES YOU OFF.
OK now we have come to the sticky part. Oi Vey! For this I am going to be moided (Brooklynese for murder). For me, there is no universal definition for the word love.
How could there be? Our life experiences forbid it. However, when has that ever stopped me from having all the answers? I’m still making it up.The difference today is I know I’m making it up.
All right, we need to separate Romantic Love from Universal Love.
I have been in romantic love at least a billion different times, with all God’s critters. Mostly male of every stripe and color. Only about 10 of the billion knew I was in love. And of the ten, I married only one. Once was more than enough. Now, everyone has their own romantic love stories to tell and if I felt like it, I would tell you mine. But I don’t. So I won’t. You can always do what I do and make it up. A kind of coupling of your truth with romantic love. All to say that romantic love is brilliant and necessary for population growth and hormones. (It’s dropping by the way… population growth, that is… not hormones!!! Any theories???)
Universal Love. For me it will always belong to the world of Spirit. It is in that world I find myself more and more comfortable and more and more the need to inhabit. Yeah, sure, of course, to some extent this feeling is age related. However, I have to acknowledge this world of Spirit has always been with me. I was among the many who had experienced early childhood trauma. Too young to know about God or religions, but always knowing somehow during this time, I was cared for. In many of my darkest times, it is and was always there. It comes in the form of humor, wonder, and yes, mostly LOVE. I have found my place in the Universe and I am loved not just by my friends and family. I can look at a sunrise and even knowing I had nothing to do with bringing it up (such a relief to have that off my plate!), be in love with the wonder of it all. I and those who can experience sunrise, sunset, and all the wonders of the Universe, know we are loved. How come it took me so long to get it? I don’t know.
Which reminds me… I want to share a new “AHA!!” with you. Just yesterday my 3 favorite words were, “I Love You”. Today, with MY PHD in Judgement intact, my 3 Most Favorite Words are,
I DON’T KNOW.
And that’s my definition of Freedom, Truth, and Love.
Right? Of course, right!!!