Happy Memorial Day. I learned today via MoveOn.Org that the history of Memorial Day was started by former slaves on May, 1, 1865 in Charleston, SC to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who had been buried in a mass grave in a Confederate prison camp. They dug up the bodies and worked for 2 weeks to give them a proper burial as gratitude for fighting for their freedom. They then held a parade of 10,000 people led by 2,800 Black children where they marched, sang and celebrated. I don’t recall learning that in school. Do you?
It’s beautiful when people act from the generosity of their spirits. And it takes such courage. In a world full of people coming from fear, it takes bravery to do things that express what’s meaningful to you, to insert yourself in a moment to express what you believe is right. This is true for every person who has acted, in direct and covert ways, for freedom, even if they didn’t understand what that was or the larger forces at work.
It’s also just as true for every one of us, every day, when we choose to stretch beyond our comfort zone and LIVE. When we acknowledge the fearful beliefs that would have us be small, get overly attached to our routines, or become apathetic… and instead step BEYOND that and live more fully, with bigger hearts, and more adventurous spirits.
This has a million different aspects to explore, but here’s one:
How different would it be if you entered into interactions assuming that your presence was going to make that person’s day? Would you smile wider? Share more? Be more outgoing?
I bet you would. I would!
It’s deep in all of us to mix up insecurity with humility. We hold ourselves back thinking that’s being appropriate (I’m still trying to work out who made that an advantageous goal) when really our reserve is because we feel insecure – fearing judgment, rejection, or failure in some way.
Everyone has had a million lies beat into them, making them move in crooked ways. It really could be that your bright, wild, elevated, humorous, kind, generous, positive, wacky, or revealing contribution could truly make someone’s day.
When I was in LA last month I attended several dances facilitated by Michael Skelton. In one of them the energy of the group was heavy. He tried to raise us up and it just wasn’t happening until… he had us dance as if our dance, our presence, was making someone else’s day. At first, we all had our protective shells on. But slowly, wonderfully they fell off. And then one woman took it to a wild level of theatricality and a room of shadowy people burst into laughter and everyone started running around like kids. Halelujah!
You really have no idea what an amazing difference you make in other people’s lives. It’s impossible to know the full extent of how you being you and expressing yourself generously lights up those around you and how this ripples out, raising more and more people up. And it’s quite likely that what you find quirky, bizarre, or a bit over-the-top about yourself is the exact thing the people around you love because they wish they had more of that quality, and visa versa.
This past week I happened to watch Good Morning Vietnam. Besides being a fantastic movie, and this being a Memorial Day post, it’s SUCH a good example of how one person being themselves can raise so many up. Here’s a wonderful clip from the movie. Or, if you have some time, you can watch the full movie here.
Shine your light!