A few days ago my 14-year old daughter Lucia went to deliver a shirt she was selling to a friend of her's in a neighborhood north of our's. To make money Lucia has started an Instagram account selling clothes she no longer wears. She's slowing building her business and I'm proud of her efforts. After delivering the shirt and collecting payment, Lucia took a JUMP bike home, $12 burning a hole in her pocket. I can't lie. I was relieved that she made it home without me dictating directions to her ( and without a helmet!) I tried to play it cool and not ask too many questions about her adventure and the whole day went by without any detail of her solo voyage.
But yesterday morning when we were eating breakfast Lucia said, "Mom it was so crazy yesterday. I was riding home from Camille's-- I had money, a JUMP bike, Google Maps and my Orca card. I could have gone anywhere."
"Wow," I said, "How did that feel?"
"Great!" she said.
I felt happy for her. What an amazing milestone in life, to figure out something momentous like that, to consciously recognize that freedom. Last night when we were saying good night Lucia brought up that feeling of freedom again. "Mom," she said, "I could have really gone anywhere. I mean, I didn't have a charger, but I could have just stopped at someone's house if my phone died and asked to borrow one."
Lucia had so much joy, so much energy in the recognition that she could make her own decisions, point herself in whatever direction she wanted, and get there! She had everything figured out. I tried to think back and think if I had ever experienced that clear moment of freedom in my own life. I remember once after my sophomore year in college, taking my mom's Suburban from Chicago to St. Louis in the middle of the night without telling her. I had to collect a bunch of stuff I'd left in my college apartment before I went away to Spain for the year. I remember driving with my sister Katherine and my friend Meredith all night. I remember arriving back in Chicago at dawn, trying to make it home before my mother would detect the car gone. I remember that moment, feeling free, like I was doing something insane and wild and out of my norm.
When we get older we don't have such keen moments of recognizing our freedom. After a certain point, we do mostly make our own decisions. We drive cars. We have jobs to make money. But there are moments that we experience newfound freedoms as we get older. There are obvious examples--- like leaving an unsatisfying job or a relationship. There is the bittersweet freedom of watching our children grow away from us. There is freedom in downsizing our space or our wardrobes.
The sweetness of freedom that Lucia experienced for the first time on that JUMP bike is probably a once-in-a-lifetime Ah-Ha moment. And I know Lucia will keep experiencing new moments of freedom throughout her life. When I think about it, I can identify lots of little moments where I felt free from fill in the blank. But the freedom I'm feeling now feels more similar to what I heard Lucia describing-- a freedom to do something, go somewhere. What I'm experiencing in my life right now is liberation from perfection. During my 20s, 30s and 40s I tried desperately to meet some external expectation of perfection. Now, in my fifties, I feel free to be supremely imperfect. This newfound liberation from perfection is inspiring. I feel energized and excited. Thanks for helping connect the dots Lucia.