Today began before the sun fully came up, with loud noises and flashing lights. An ambulance at a neighbor’s house immediately had me praying, and also immediately transported me to the night my Dad died and how the world looked as I arrived at my parents’ house.

Red flashes. Red is the color of stop. Red is the color of danger. My eyes filled with tears as my heart filled with heaviness.

And just as quickly as the heaviness came, the urge to choose a direction filled my mind. A deeply ingrained habit, a gift my Dad gave me, to be mindful of the direction of my thoughts and emotions.

My Dad’s gift came in the form of a book – for me, a life-changing book. I first read Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer as a young adult, when I desperately needed freedom from fear. And although its pages have countless lessons, the most important one for me is this: I am in control of all my thoughts and I choose which thoughts to dwell on and which ones to discard.

This morning I had a choice to focus on praying for someone else or on sadness, grief, and fear. I chose praying for someone else. But as I’m human and all up in my feelings right now, an hour later and for the rest of the day I was focused on and looking back over my scribblings about fear and progress and the year of freedom.

When I think back on all the times in my life where fear had the most power, I had at some point made a choice to walk with or in forces that did not embrace light in the same way I did or needed to. For me, freedom is in the light. I am the strongest when I use my free will, my freedom, to choose light. I am the strongest when I surround myself with other people who choose light.

Are light and love interchangeable here? As in Light and Love? That brings me full circle to Mat Kearney’s Closer to Love, a song that can transport me back to the smells and sounds of CHKD halls just as fast as those lights this morning transported me back to 3 weeks ago.

She got the call today
One out of the gray
And when the smoke cleared
It took her breath away
She said she didn’t believe
It could happen to me
I guess we’re all one phone call
From our knees

But that song and those memories all have a happy ending now. A light associated with them. A love associated with them. A freedom associated with them.

I’ve been looking for my eagle, a symbol of freedom, and still haven’t seen her since my Dad went to heaven. I think she holds some sort of secret I am supposed to unlock. A behavior I am supposed to learn from. But until I see her, I’m stuck with Google and bird websites to try and figure it out. What I know with certainty so far is this: in order to fly, birds or planes must have a balance of forces. NASA has really complicated ways of explaining this but Toni Morrison says it so simply: You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.

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