Welcome to summer!
I can’t seem to begin an adult summer without those first words from a new school teacher as school began each fall, “What did you do on your summer vacation?” When you grow up in southeastern New Mexico, the hot summer days run one into another. My days were spent hurriedly making my bed, straightening up my room, and doing my assigned chore for the day. Dusting the many spindled legs on our dining room table and the six chairs around it seemed to take an eternity before mother released my brother and me to the great outdoors.
I realize now how that taste of freedom, as we ran out of the screen door that would slam with a loud bang, was so taken for granted. As if, as a pre-teen, I was somehow entitled to this sense of freedom.
I just bought an inspiring new book, A Beginner’s Guide to America, For the Immigrant and the Curious. This fascinating book by Roya Hakakian offers a perspective I think I hadn’t ever considered. Hakakian fled Iran in 1984 and is not shy about her love of America. The author states, “In offering a newcomer’s perspective, this book will inevitably cast a fresh look at America, rethinking and presenting her to all readers through the weathered perspective of a naturalized citizen. Perhaps those who have been born and raised here and assume that their mere birth either endows them with the knowledge of America or exempts them from exploring and discovering her, can see her anew through the eyes of others who dream of becoming Americans.”
As I listened to Hakakian being interviewed, I realized I had become lazy about my own patriotism, my own love of my birth country, America, and worst of all, a bit numb to just how very important my freedoms are and how easily freedom can slip through our fingers like grains of sand. This numbing down and dumbing down of not just me but by many Americans begins in the smallest of ways.
My coaching work is based on “Living a Passionate Life.” It is the cornerstone of every choice I now make in my life. Like all freedoms, this one has not come without a cost. When I first understood the psychology of decision making, I of course made some bad choices. Notice, I didn’t say bad decisions rather bad choices. The difference being that choices like that can be so random, so in the moment. Decisions, on the other hand, are usually more thought-provoking and require a deeper level of commitment.
As Americans, our day-to-day choices can take us down a road of being a stronger patriot of our United States of America or simply a citizen taking up space and using resources, offering nothing in return. So today, I am making a new, fresh, and committed decision to re-engage my America. Not in a political or protester way but in a heartfelt, “I love my country” kind of way. Won’t you join me?
Begin by investing in some “worth your time” reading A Beginners Guide to America by Roya Hakakian. A great summer read that just might change your way of appreciating our America.
Article written by Debbie Nix and originally published in Focus on Artesia 2021 Summer edition.