Sunday, July 4, 2010


So it's Independence Day here in the U.S. I remember how strange it seemed spending the holiday in London back in 1985. I suddenly realized my British friends really didn't care to celebrate the anniversary. This brings to mind the recently released statistic that 20% of U.S. citizens don't know who we won our independence from. One friend, an American, was married to an Englishwoman who was minor royalty...22nd in line to the throne or something like that. So they were invited as special guests to the garden party at the U.S. Embassy to celebrate the 4th, and took me along. A festive event, but certainly surreal.

I've been thinking about personal freedom a lot recently. When I was in prison, I outlined a book that is currently on my famous "back burner," The Great Escape--12 Essential Freedoms.
The most essential one I think is the one offered by Christopher Morley:
"There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way."

That's really what freedom is all about, isn't it? On several occasions I've had the rather arrogant thought that I am more uniquely qualified to expound on freedom than most people, having spent 12 years in prison, and feeling that I hadn't lost my freedom at all--just my freedom of movement through the physical world. Inside my own head, I was as free as the proverbial bird, free to stretch my wings and take off in any direction. Free to think, to reflect, to meditate, to daydream, to imagine, to have any opinion I chose on any subject in the universe. True, there were harsh realities to deal with, but with such an abundance of internal options on which to focus, these were largely insignificant and usually easy to ignore.

But more recently, I had the further realization that we all have that ability to create our own freedom, in prison or out. Some people create their own prisons of limited freedom without ever getting involved with the so-called justice system. All have the ability to escape.

I just posted a comment on my Facebook page about the fact that I was planning to spend July 4th alone at home to celebrate my Personal Independence Day. And then I exercised my personal independence by changing my mind. In about an hour, I am headed for lunch at Red Lobster, where I will order one of my favorites, their seafood gumbo served in a sourdough bread bowl with a salad featuring wood grilled shrimp. I am celebrating a small but very satisfying victory. Some of you know that a continuing interest of mine is poker. And last night I entered an online Razz (7 card lowball stud) tournament for $5.50. There were 55 other players from all over the world, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Australia, Canada, Austria, Italy, Brazil, etc. I came in 2nd and won $112.50. Not a huge amount of money, but certainly worth celebrating with a delicious lunch. And it moves me further along in my education, which I hope will lead me to a slot in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas next year.

In response to my Facebook item, I got a message from my old friend Gregg Sanderson, whom I first knew in Miami in the 1970s. Marla Sanderson recently took over as minister of the Church of Religious Science in Largo, Florida, so they moved from Nashville back to Florida after some thirty years away in such places as Las Cruces, New Mexico; San Diego; Nevada City, CA. In his message, Gregg sent me a link to their newsletter and an article by Marla on Personal Independence Day, so I decided it would be perfect to share that with my blog readers, as it coincided with so many of my own thoughts on the subject (don't we always adore the writings of people who largely agree with us?).

Summer is a great time to explore and exercise your personal freedom. I still vividly remember the sense of freedom I would get during summer vacation from school. I was suddenly free to do whatever I wanted with an entire day. Sometimes this was scary, sometimes boring, but always life-affirming. I loved that sense of freedom so much that I became determined to always be able to live as if I was on summer vacation from school. And most of my life I've been able to do that. I wish the same for you.

By the way, another way I exercise my personal independence is by having another blog, independent from this one, focused mostly on prosperity, but certainly with a similar philosophical view of life, liberty, love, and the pursuit of happiness. Check it out.