IT IS CANADIAN ELECTION DAY
Or it was yesterday when I wrote this. While you are reading this we in Canada are picking up the pieces, digesting the results, and moving on. This evening I voted.
I always cry when I vote.
I let myself reflect a bit tonight as the tears flowed.
Why do I cry? Is it the sad state of the world? The difficult choice I have to make? The beautiful choice I get to make?
These things are all in my mind but they’re not why I cry.
As I walked up the stairs from the church basement where my community votes I had tears in my eyes. And I knew this time why I cry. I cry because we are free.
Each of us with our personas, our assets, our liabilities, our jobs. Each of us with our beauty, our disabilities, our status, and our mistakes. Each of us with our rivalries our insults and our cherishing. We’re all free. No one gets more than one vote here. And we’re free. We’re choosing who will lead us.
The skeptic in all of us could probably go on and on right now. There is much to be skeptical about. And much that is disappointing.
But the fundamental truth of where we live is that we are free.
We often don’t feel free. We feel our obligations - to family, to our jobs, to ourselves.
But we must know that we are free. We must experience this. Each of us age of majority humans constitute the democratic society we live in.
We don’t grow up free. We grow up dependent. And depending on the family in which we grow up in we may or may not be handed our freedom in digestible slices throughout our childhood. We may or may not turn eighteen knowing that we are free.
But the fact is that we are.
I cry tears of gratitude that I am free.
Free to love whom I choose. Free to attend to what I need to attend to. Free to work as I choose to work. Free to open my heart and to love fiercely even when there is a cost.
It doesn’t end there. When we are free. Then we can be responsible. Not until we experience our freedom can we be truly responsible.
Each member of my polling community (and turnout is very high today) descends the stairs. They identify themselves and are handed a ballot. They make a mark next to their candidate. They put the ballot in the box. The return up the stairs.
I am reminded of a trip to the underworld. A sacred duty to which we descend and then we reappear having done what we must do. Having been responsible.
It is frightening to be free. Because with freedom comes responsibility.
Many people arrive in therapy not free. They are held prisoner by relationship patterns, self-destructive patterns, addictions. In therapy we begin the work of loosening the ties that bind. Along the way is hope. And grace. And huge fear.
If the prisoner can be free they must indeed live.
And I never forget the part of Shawshank Redemption where the freed inmate hangs himself. He cannot sustain a life of freedom. It is not known to him. It requires an exercise of himself of which, having been imprisoned for so many years, he is incapable.
As you work to put down the burden with which you entered therapy, you will encounter new burdens. The burden of fear. The burden of unformed parts of yourself that cannot rule your newfound life.
I hope you treasure the sweet tears of emergence. Of the realization of your freedom.
And I hope you walked intentionally into the crisp night having fulfilled this responsibility and open and ready for the next one.