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I am blessed. I am blessed because I have never yet needed to understand the full meaning of independence. And I am more ignorant than many my age, because I have never yet needed to understand its full meaning. My life hasn’t been as full or as successful as I would have liked it to be, but I have always had the freedom and the tools and the wherewithall to change that any time I choose. It is precisely because I have all those things to hand so easily and so readily that, if I am not careful, I never will.

Days like today make me thankful to have a cold right now, because it reminds me that I have all means necessary to make myself better. They make me thankful that I could choose to throw myself the other side of the world into social obscurity with the faith that I could build another life. I am thankful that I am surrounded by people who are driven to serve humanity and the environment, be it through teaching, healing, protecting, or nurturing.

I grew up in a country where there was a coup; people lay their lives down to fight for their independence. I grew up in countries where my parents worked tirelessly to put in the necessary support networks for people to be independent: teaching basic hygiene, how to manage illness… I am blessed to have been witness to limbless beggars and militia on the streets, to have reared our own food and to have felt temporarily unsafe in my own home. These are all blessings because they granted me the perspective and grace to see how much of my life is a gift, how much is a choice and what anyone can help change.

Days like today remind me that celebrating independence, to me, starts at home. It’s about understanding how much of your life is what you choose to put there, how you approach what you have, and how you go after that which you seek. It’s not about an ‘us and them’ polarisation, nor is it about protection. It’s about understanding that a lot of us are lucky enough to have the space, the time and the freedom to consider how rarely our lives are actually impacted by anyone more distant than your closest group of friends and family. And we can choose who else we welcome in. We are lucky enough to be able to choose how to tell our story, when and to whom. We are mostly lucky enough to have some say in how that story will end.

Whether the word has connotations of politics, economics, human rights, self-empowerment or health to you, the fact that we exist in countries where it can mean more than one thing is a blessing. Whichever definition you choose today, may it allow you to count your blessings.

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