When I was in high school, we were able to participate in a senior class retreat called Kairos. It was a four-day retreat that culminated in the students’ return to their families amidst applause and newfound self-awareness. And, within the bucolic and idyllic confines of that four-day retreat, kids (hopefully) came to know what it is to “Live the Fourth”
We have all endured the small hurts of everyday life…the avoidance, the exclusion, the forget. But the point to living the fourth is not to ignore them but to instead acknowledge them and try to do better…if not for ourselves, then for our kids.
As I sit here, on July 3rd, the irony is not lost on me that the most important 4th day of any month of the year will occur tomorrow. And, I’m harkened back to what it means to “Live the Fourth.
In essence, we be our best selves…we remember the lessons we’ve been taught. We take them to heart. We do our best to appreciate the small moments of the normal everyday…and we say “thank you.” That thank you feels so enormously big on a day like July 4th. It is, unarguably, my favorite holiday of the year. It always has been. I love the pomp and circumstance…the small town parades…the family togetherness…the remembrance…the tradition…I. Love. It. All.
But, what I don’t love, is the divisiveness that pervades our current social climate. The emotional rigor of my Kairos retreat, albeit so many years ago, taught me to value differences and differing opinions. It taught me to appreciate the unimaginable ways we can each positively impact each other’s lives. It taught me to slow down and think before I speak (or type)…It taught me to live the fourth. To try to think about each day as if it were my last. To ensure that each of my friends and family knows how important he or she is to me. To be truthful, there are days that I am far more successful with this than others.
But, when a friend from elementary school takes time out of her busy travel schedule to visit me and my family, from 2,000 miles away? It’s a reminder to live the fourth. When my sister calls me to say “Hey, pal” after not having talked for a week, it’s a reminder to live the fourth. When a friend from high school, calls to say she was thinking about me and had a few minutes to talk on her long LA commute home, it’s a reminder to live the fourth.
It’s a reminder to be a better version of myself. To uphold the ideals I espouse to my kids…to be honest, to be kind, to be persistent, to be available.
So, America, let’s live this Fourth…let’s make this next year of our country’s birth a better one than it saw before. Let’s find a way to listen…to understand…to be tolerant and accepting…to be strong and steadfast. Because, we can. If there ever was a country on a continent, on a planet, in a galaxy, in a universe that could do it; it is us. Let’s use our voices to champion our strengths…use our voices to uplift our weaknesses. We are certainly not without our faults, but we are nothing if not dogged in our persistence.
Happy birthday, America! Live this fourth!
Honest & Natural Nyack Photographer
Gina specializes in natural & emotive storytelling images. Emphasizing play and togetherness to help tell each family’s story, she is able to create an energetic and fun-filled session atmosphere. Visit the Session Info Page for more details.