The power of three. S0metimes unrelated experiences create the perfect mosaic. I have learned to pay atenti0n to the picture that emerges.

Late last month I read for the first time a terrific 10 minute play that I am directing. As a participant in a wonderful Women Playwright Festival in Prescott, Aug 20th, I wear several hats –  writer, actress and director. I am directing Color Separation by Jennie Webb.

The play explores choice, and consequence of not making a choice through a slightly absurdist lens. Ms. Webb looks at the way in which people drift into relationships, ‘find’ themselves to be pregnant and then maybe even then fail to make a choice, because, one could argue, in some places and ways government or religion has made the choice for women. Taking it a step further these young people take their to have baby or not ‘choice’ to facebook and ask their ‘friends’ to make the choice for them.

Last week I finally watched the documentary Ten Questions for The Dalai Lama (2006). Since it was released he has made the one most powerful and effective choice he could have in the face of China’s determination to corrupt the process of selecting the next Dalai Lama.

On March 14 of this year he announced that henceforth the role of the Dalai Lama as both spiritual and political leader of Tibet would be no more. The two would be separated. In this way no matter who the Chinese claim is the next Dalai Lama, that power he will have will not equal the  force of tradition. Thus the power of the Chinese over Tibet cannot be complete even with their own Dalai Lama.

[If you can, take the time to read the last 5 paragraphs found at this link from the website, It is wise, thoughtful, unemotional and committed to the cause of freedom.]

And then there was July 4th. As a non-American with more than 25 years here, I have picked up some of the dialect, humor and concerns of specific levels of the multi-layered society that is The USA.

I have been privileged to work with returned members of the Military, with doctors and families making through life-threatening illnesses, and side by side with educators whose commitment to their students is unwavering.

I lived in Oregon near the coast for more than 20 years and then moved to the warmer, drier climes in Arizona. I have been fortunate enough to be free to make my own choices, generally responsible enough to manage the outcomes of those choices and blessed with an incredible (albeit now older!) Honda CR-V which allowed me to travel anywhere. (Let’s hear it for car-camping.)

By being willing to live with less I have been able to do much. The journey has taken me to so many places, introduced me to very many different people, and expanded my awareness into experiences of which I had no idea when I arrived. One of those is the July 4th celebrations.

Every year on July 4th I am primarily concerned with the fast beating hearts of the creatures in my care who may not ‘get’ the excitement along with loud noises and blindingly sudden lights. This year in AZ I didn’t have to worry. The choice to let off fireworks in every backyard was pre-empted by the extreme heat and gusty winds with a resounding NO! from the powers that be.

(An instance of freedom and choice being curtailed? Maybe because we cannot be sure that all will behave responsibly or with self-discipline.)

Every year I also consider the veterans I know for whom the explosive noises and lights are no pleasure at all. For those people there is no freedom to celebrate the 4th with unfettered joy and delight. The cost has been too high in ways I can only imagine.

Susie Kincaid wrote a lovely response to July 4th for Body/Mind/Spirit group that I lead on the EmpowHer site. She embraced and honored the freedom and beauty of nature, in beautiful Vail, Colorado, where she lives.

She celebrated and urged ‘your personal independence. Which also means opportunity… to choose growth, awareness, our own path.’ She also wrote, ‘My freedom and personal power feed my purpose which is nurturing others to use their own power as a positive influence in their world.’

Given my history with those beings for whom so much is beyond their personal choice, for whom freedom to be whole and healthy and well has been challenged by events beyond their control, I responded with this addition.

‘Along with Freedom and Choice resides Responsibility and Self-Discipline. Freedom is not ‘free’ because it requires that we each, and then in community, accept the consequences of our actions and/or in-actions, as the case maybe. So, I embrace freedom and I practice responsible thought and action. Then indeed I am truly free within my own empowerment.’

What do these three unrelated experiences all have in common? I think each of them explores the balance of freedom, choice and responsibility.

Emma Lazarus (yes, of  Statue of Liberty fame) wrote: ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.’ True freedom exists in relation to community, involves thought before action, and responsibility to something greater than our personal freedom.

So, back to the emerging mosaic, and my much smaller but nevertheless important to me circle. I am face to face with this question: Why have I waited again for 3 weeks to write this blog?

The Three direct me to meditate on Freedom, Choice, Responsibility. I have had the freedom to do so and not to do so. I cannot claim that work or other activities have been so demanding that it would have been impossible to write.

I have chosen not to. Or did I choose? Did I abdicate that responsibility as well? This feels like the truth, because that is ultimately where the break is. It was a lack of conscious choice. I didn’t choose not to do it, I just didn’t do it.

The power of three has always resonated for me. So, for this theme, the three are; the play, the Dalai Lama and the 4th of July.

Bearing these in mind, I am aware that I have in some way not full-filled a certain responsibility – to myself, to the work I know I am called to do and ultimately to the future . This is not grandiosity. Simply by my presence here now, I am surely a part of the future.

And as the Dalai Lama has said, self discipline is the key to how we perceive, live and move through the word.

“Self-discipline, although difficult, and not always easy while combating negative emotions, should be a defensive measure. At least we will be able to prevent the advent of negative conduct dominated by negative emotion. That is ‘shila’, or moral ethics. Once we develop this by familiarizing ourselves with it, along with mindfulness and conscientiousness, eventually that pattern and way of life will become a part of our own life.”

The Dalai Lama in making the choice he did, to separate the powers church and state from the single person of Dalai Lama, demonstrated a high level of disciplined, responsible choice-making. He did so in the name of freedom, a decision made in exile, because the freedom to live in his ancestral home has not only been taken away but could also result in the disappearance of his culture and history.

In the play, Color Separation, the consequences of irresponsible lack of active choice lead to an ambiguous conclusion.

And the advent of July 4th continues to provide a specific date to consider the role and manner of Freedom in our society today.

As long as we truthfully hold ourselves in high regard, as long as (to quote E Roosevelt) ‘No-one can make you feel inferior without your permission’, then we are free in the most real sense of the experience. When we operate from a place of self-discipline and act with responsibility, we will maintain that freedom.

It arises from a deep sense of self, that connection to spirit; is articulated through a sharp intellect and willingness to learn, and manifests as conscious, disciplined action. Your freedom is deeply within, and how you manifest that enhances the world around you.

Be it quietly privately, loudly and publicly, in interaction with other human beings and the nurturing of your natural world and place, or through the art you create, freedom will ring. When you practice true freedom, held fast by self discipline, then we can all fly.

So, here is my blog offering and the book, Personal Magic, is coming right along! May you experience and manifest your freedom.