Breaking Free

Freedom. It’s what we all want. Freedom to do what we want, when we want.
Freedom from the things that entangle us. My kids want it too, the older they get. My son tells me he can’t wait until he’s on his own and can do what he wants. It’s hard not to laugh. For as an adult I realize the most freedom I ever had was when I was a child in my parent’s care.
I just finished reading a book called Orbiting The Giant Hairball, by Gordon MacKenzie.
The book belongs to Michael, a friend of my husband’s and mine. He loaned the book to my husband a while ago.He’s not getting it back. It chronicles MacKenzie’s thirty-year career at Hallmark Cards. One might easily fall under the assumption that Hallmark must be a hotbed of creativity. Gordon thought so too, but found out that the Hallmark Corporation itself was one big giant hairball that constantly tried to suck him inside the corporate way of doing things, which mostly focused on past successes rather than creative, innovative new ideas.
Matthew and I recently broke free from our everyday lives to spend a week together in Cancun, Mexico. I know, it sounds like a no brainer, but that breaking free was hard. Matthew has been without a job for the better part of a year now. So there was no extra money lying around to foot the bill. We have four kids to consider. Someone had to take over the responsibility for their welfare in our absence. I had just started a new job, and getting a week off straight off the bat was tricky. Still, we just had our twentieth wedding anniversary and, well, we thought we should celebrate.
Matthew went to work figuring out how to pull off paying for the trip, and to his credit he did a great job. My parents were kind enough to keep a watch over our kids for the week. My new boss is a hopeless romantic, and to my surprise, readily agreed to let me off work for the trip.
Even with all these things ironed out, I still felt the pull of obligation and responsibility.
Guilt over leaving my children consumed me. I just didn’t know if I could even enjoy myself. What if the plane crashed? What if one of the kids got sick, or what if my oldest child was injured while driving his car? What if, what if, what if…
The day of our departure came, and when we got up early that morning I looked outside to see an overcast sky. What a dreary day. I had packed my suitcase the night before, but I hadn’t enjoyed it. I had done as much laundry as I could, and had done my best to stock the kitchen with enough food for the week, but I still didn’t feel good about leaving.
Finally at the airport, we boarded the plane still under heavy gray skies. That was fine. It matched my mood. It seemed that dreary skies were what I deserved. I’m not a real fan of flying. I’ve flown quite a bit, but my preference is to keep my feet on the ground. Walking to Cancun just isn’t feasible, though.
As the plane taxied to the runway, and built up speed for the takeoff, I prayed my usual preflight prayer. “Lord, please keep this plane in the air until its supposed to not be in the air anymore, and then land it nicely”. Then I held on the armrest with all my might. This apparently assists in safe takeoffs. As the plane lifted off the ground and shot into the sky, I turned my head to look out the window. I wanted to make sure the wing wasn’t falling off. At that moment the plane shot through the cloud cover, and immediately all I could see was bright blue sky and a carpet of brilliant white clouds.
It took my breath away. The dreariness was gone. The light was so bright I had to squint my eyes just to see. And it stretched just as far as my eyes had vision.
Later the next day as I sat by a beautiful pool, next to my wonderful husband of twenty years, with a view of ocean water a color of turquoise no man could copy, and sipping a pina colada, I opened MacKenzie’s book and began to read. It dawned on me after only a few chapters, that in the moment that plane broke through those clouds, I had been able to break free from my own Hairball existence.
I was no longer sucked into the mire of guilt, worry, obsession, or fear.
I still felt the importance of all the things I have been entrusted with, but now I was in orbit. Tied to those things enough that I didn’t just go hog wild, (a term I learned long ago from my granny who was apparently somewhat of an expert on the nature of swine.) but free to enjoy the experience before me.
Do you know people like that? People who seem to orbit just above the muck and the mire, but never seem to get their feet stuck in it?
They have the freedom of creativity and exploration. They have perspective. They can fly high above the dreariness that most other people look up and see above them.
MacKenzie’s perspective in writing his book focused on how to achieve this attitude in the workplace. I’m going to do that, but I’m going to incorporate his principles in every area of life. I have a life to live that only I can live. I have a purpose that is mine alone. I don’t want to let the hairball of expectation, guilt, fear, and manipulation keep me from living the life God has planned for me. And you know what? I’m gonna pull as many people up here with me as I can. Want to come fly with me?

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