Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Proud to be an American — Citizen Pammett

At long last it finally happened — I made my way through all of the tedious steps and have just taken the final step — the pledge of allegiance to the USA. Yup. Citizen Pammett and I am Proud to be an American!

Never having seen such a naturalization ceremony, I didn't know much about what to expect, so it was pretty interesting. First lesson learned: When they say "it starts at 10:30", what that means is that some people will arrive by then, but they don't actually start the ceremony until after everyone who is going to arrive has had their paperwork checked, and they're all sitting in their seats. So in my case that meant that we actually got going just after 12:30.

Then the interesting part started. First up, they said that we were 643 applicants, from 95 different countries. Then they called out all of the countries in alphabetical order, encouraging everyone to stand up and cheer when their country was called. Not unlike the Olympics… it was an amazingly long time until they got to Canada at which point I did cheer loudly to make my presence known — as if it wasn't already obvious enough due to my Uncle Sam top hat and celebratory garb. Much to my surprise, it was the only such hat that I saw all day. The festive garb was the brainchild and birthday gift from my baby girl, shown with me on the left when we went out for lunch afterwards with my longtime friend, Austin.

The ceremony was actually more interesting than I expected, featuring a very inspirational "keynote" from the Judge — herself an immigrant — who presided over the ceremony. Her quote, which totally enrolled me, was [that I was] “Pledging myself to an enterprise in human freedom”. Yeah !   I totally get it. After the Oath, tears came to my eyes as I sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for my first time as an American Citizen. I was also touched by the symbolism of it being such a rainy day (new life). When I got home I put out a container to catch rain drops and I will use that water as my "Citizenship" contribution this Fall when we do our UUC tradition of combining community water to make ritual water for the coming year.

For comparisson — on the right you see what I looked like when I got my green card in 1982, which was already 5 years after I'd come to the USA. Yea... things change. How many times have I had to explain that at border crossings?
Which brings me to answering the question everyone asks: Why did I do it ?
Basically, to me it was a mater of Integrity. Technically, I'll always be a Canadian. But I have lived and worked my entire life outside of Canada — years in France but mostly in the USA. And at this point in my life I want to "go home" when I retire — home to my country. And though I have lived elsewhere for almost half my life, deep down I feel like this is my home and always will be. So I just wanted to make the commitment officially and take my rightful place doing my part in “The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave”.

So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it  !

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How much have you loved?

Last evening, just when my mind was turning to the next day — to today being the anniversary of my Mom's passing in the year 2000 — I was totally blind-sighted by the shocking news of the tragic passing of Robin Williams. I have long felt a kindred spirit with him, but didn't realize until I looked it up how close we really were on life's timeline: We were almost exactly the same age except that he was born on the 21st vs my birthday being the 24th of July, 1951.  

So today, rather than lament his unfortunate choice of leaving us, I choose to focus on one of the many of his quotes that I heard on TV today. In an interview where they were talking about the choices we all make as we go through life — what ultimately matters and what doesn't — RW said that the most important way we all can assess our own lives is to look back over it and ask the simple question: “How much have you loved ?”

Such a poignant and important question! I might prefer to generalize it a bit and rather ask a question about being in touch with your passion... What are you passionate about?   Or:   When was the last time you allowed yourself to really engage in something that you are passionate about?  Take a second, now, and answer that honestly. You may be inspired by what you discover.

If you know me you'll know that generally I have no shortage of answers to such questions. Most of that revolves around my connection to people and nature, which I guess is why I chose this picture for my R.I.P. statement about Robin Williams. But really it's a calling out to all people out there who can look deep down inside and find something they want to howl about. If you prefer poetry... check out my “Howling at the Moon” article.

If you're still unsure... go out tonight and marvel at the Perseid meteor showers. Tonight just happens to be when they will be at their peak. And if you're anywhere near Boston, Mass, check out this article for details on how to see this yearly marvel from the North East USA vantage.