Independence Day

Holidays take on new meaning sober.

I didn’t appreciate Thanksgiving as an ingrate. Now it’s an opportunity to show how grateful I am for the life I live and the people in it.

I used to know more about Christmas from Coca-Cola ads than church services. Now I center our family’s celebration around the spiritual axiom Christ teaches: by giving, we receive.

And then there’s Independence Day. I can’t celebrate it without appreciating what independence means to me.


A key document that led to America’s declaration was Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

Read at taverns and churches alike, the pamphlet dismantled colonial reasoning. Long-distance governance wasn’t working.

Paine’s intro:

Common Sense

Click for link to the wordy (an Englishman afterall) original.

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.”

As much may as well have been written in the preamble to my getting sober. Drinking and drugging: talk about a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong. I rationalized and told myself it was right despite all reasonable evidence to the contrary. And I mean hard evidence: handcuffs, stitches, broken bones, citations, court appearances, holding cells, and those blue-felt cardboard psychiatric wing slippers that I’ll never forget.

It is our built in ism—the long habit of not thinking a thing wrong—that tells us the drink and the drug aren’t the problem. It gives us the “superficial appearance of being right.”

How true for those recovering that “Time makes more converts than reason.” Once time-and-time-again is time enough, we learn to abandon our reason, to put our faith outside of our minds. It is our very reason which drives us insane. I’ll never forget when I first heard—and truly listened and understood—when someone told me, “just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.” How revolutionary!

I was in a dank church basement but I may as well have been wearing a white wig, and pressing a quill to my chin in a curious manner. 

By Jov! Great Scott! Methinks thou hast spoken truth good sir!


Today, I am independent of foreign governance. No longer do outside substances rule me. And freedom from that oppression beats the fireworks. It beats the parades, the Americana, the glowsticks, the hotdogs. It beats the time off work and the newest patriotic blockbuster movie.

More preciesely, it clears away “the filters of deception, insanity, and fear” (Kip Shubert) so that I may truly enjoy those things for what they are: miracles, blessings—the best the mundane has to offer.


ind. day

Bill Pullman plays President Thomas J. Whitmore. (A name splice between Thomas Jefferson and Mount Rushmore)

America celebrates it’s independence from Britain on July 4th. And it is typical of Americans to assume the whole world celebrates with them. Take the 1996 Hollywood hit “Independence Day” in which an American President declares July 4th is for the human species.

To commemorate 10 years of America’s fictional acquisition of all human independence, Hollywood just made Independence Day: Resurgence.

But July 4th is not the only day to celebrate independence.


Over half the calendar days are devoted to the independance of a nation. In fact, one day later on July 5th, Algeria celebrates independence from France, Cape Verde celebrates independence from Portugal, and Venezuela celebrates independence from Spain.

Independence is celebrated worldwide quite often.

In recovery, we celebrate our independence daily. Independence from pills, powders, and people. Independence from alcohol, from nicotine, from negative thinking. Independence of the spirit.

I celebrate July 4th as an American, but October 13th is my soul’s independence day—the first day free from mood-altering substance.

I am usually 4th of July’ed out by July 2nd, but my true independence day celebration is now 3,186 days old; and it doesn’t tire.

What do you celebrate when you celebrate independence?



We interupt your regularly scheduled blogging for this #LifeUnfiltered update.

Thank you for taking the #LifeUnfiltered challenge. I’d like to also thank my wife for coming up with the idea. The people have spoken. On the first of each month, the Miracle of the Mundane will feature 10 news stories on the simple life from people who post using the hashtag.

For more information on what #LifeUnfiltered is all about, please read Kip Shubert’s post, he summed it up better than I ever could.

6 Responses to “Independence Day

  • Thank you yet again for bringing a unique and moving vantage point to something mundane and mostly taken for granted. I am grateful for you and the bond we share. With fist fulls of faith I shall keep being aware of my #LifeUnfiltered. Im humbled by your support.

  • As you know I am in Canada and we just celebrated Canada Day. For me it is learning about coexisting with others very different from myself. Not only coexisting but celebrating those differences. For instance, at my daughter’s grad there was a young Sikh man graduating. Instead of the cap he had his turban (in the same colour as the caps) with a tassel. It was awesome!
    As with so many of your posts I will come back to read this again. So much to think about.

    • That is very cool and different. Every time I feel we’re making progress toward social acceptance as a country, there’s a new election that reveals we are as divided as ever. Have a great holiday Birdie!

  • Good stuff, Mark. As I was reading, I thought “my Independence day is Thanksgiving.” Never thought of it like that, but it’s as true as anything else I know. John Barleycorn was a treacherous master. Thank God for our freedom.

  • Guess what?
    My sober date IS on the fourth!!
    So today, I have had freedom for 22 months!!
    I am sorry, I didn’t understand your post about life unfiltered.
    But I think I do now!

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