I think it’s quite as important to have private holidays as public ones.
Thanksgiving, Easter, Memorial Day and their kin can, perhaps, bring us together as a community and help us remember important things. But there are also private dates of remembrance that can bring us together with ourselves. These dates of ritual observance can remind us about where we’ve been and give us occasion to think about where we’re going.
Yesterday, for example, was my Independence Day.
On May 3, 2002 I went to stay with friends for the weekend while my wife moved out of our apartment. Regarding the specifics, I’ll only say that she had her reasons, she did it after two and a half years of trying to get me to do it, and nothing we did to try to hold it together in the interim had worked.
At the time I was melancholy, and vaguely terrified, but looking back it was a profound gift. Within a few months, things that I had put on hold for years had reawakened. I was writing again, buying new music, getting out in the town to try a hundred new things. Our separation lengthened into divorce and I began the baffling process of learning to love again.
Other things reawakened to, old demons of depression and addiction, and the past seven years have had their share of heartbreak and turmoil. But I grew through them, and, looking back, everything that I think of now as who I am- the people I know, the things I do, what’s most important to me in life, came about after this date. I’m so grateful that life (and to be fair, her) gave me the kick in the butt I needed to start to become a whole person.
I treasure this wholeness now, and want to use this seven-year anniversary to reaffirm my commitment to continue to pursue it no matter what.