Grateful for Freedom
by Connie Brisson ~
FREEDOM! Hallelujah, sweet freedom.
On July 1, our provincial government lifted the pandemic restrictions and the heavens opened up, the sun shone through and we are free to live again!
When we went into our first restaurant last week, without wearing a mask, I felt like I had gotten away with some great crime. It was absurdly thrilling! But then when I went to the washroom without the mask, I was overcome with gratefulness for something so simple.
One thing the pandemic did do (as it squeezed us into little, tiny boxes with its myriad of restrictions and limitations) was that it inadvertently created an increase of gratitude within us. Now the simplest things, that we never even thought about before, have suddenly become beautiful luxuries.
It’s easy to be grateful for the big things in our lives, but being grateful for our freedom has never been one of those things, as we’ve mostly taken it for granted living here in Canada.
Way back in the 90’s, when Marcel got a job in a Saudi Arabia, I excitedly went along with him. As a woman there, I could not go out by myself. I either had to be with Marcel or another woman. I also couldn’t go out with another man without Marcel being there. I couldn’t even leave our apartment by myself, not even for a walk, never mind not being able to drive.
At the beginning it was so exciting and fun, but after months of this there were times when it started to feel restrictive and even, dare I say, annoying. When you are in another country and culture, it is important to respect the traditions and laws but sometimes it’s difficult when you are so used to things being a different way.
I remember this one day, I was cooking something spectacular for supper when I realized I need tomato paste. I couldn’t believe I didn’t have any. So, I sat there and wondered what to do. At first, I tried to think of a way to not have tomato paste in the dish I was making, but no matter how creative I tried to be, I needed that tomato paste. Then I thought I should put it all away and make it the next day when I could have some tomato paste, but then that meant that I didn’t have anything ready for supper.
I sat and stewed about it for a while and then I got annoyed. It was tomato paste. Why couldn’t I just go get some? Why did this have to be so dramatic? And as quick as that, my lack of freedom lit a defiant little fire in me.
And so I put on my abaya (a black full-length outer garment worn by Muslim women) that I had to wear whenever I left the house, over my normal clothes. I grabbed some riyals and then, with a rebellious determination, I bravely walked out of the apartment building and down the street towards a little grocery store about two blocks away.
As I walked down the street, all I heard was bang, bang, bang, as there was a three story building being built by a bunch of construction workers. But then, when they saw me walking, all the workers stopped and they just watched me. No one made a sound. They couldn’t believe it! I really don’t think they had ever seen anything like that – a woman there walking by herself in broad daylight. It just wasn’t done. But I was on a mission and very determined to get my tomato paste.
When I walked into the tiny grocery store, the male clerk there was stunned too. I greeted him in Arabic and then I said I wanted a can of tomato paste. He got it for me as quickly as he could. I bought two and I left.
That’s when I realized that the construction workers were all still watching and had not gone back to work since my walk began. Instead they were all waiting to see what would happen… And that’s when my “Operation Tomato Paste” mission started to scare me. Maybe this little walk was a lot braver than I thought…
But lightening didn’t strike me. In fact, nothing happened and for that I was grateful because, looking back, it was a bold thing for even a foreign woman to do there. But I was grateful for that little can of tomato paste and I was grateful for my wee taste of freedom. I got back, finished cooking my supper – with the coveted tomato paste – and had an interesting story to share with Marcel over supper about “how my day was.”
I still think about that bold adventure sometimes when I’ve needed tomato paste here. Interestingly enough, in this pandemic, even getting groceries (like tomato paste) were difficult for many people here too. And I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to having my own “Operation Defiance” moments here during our pandemic with all the confining (and sometimes annoying and silly) rules we’ve all been living with.
But the beauty of restrictions and limitations is that they inadvertently set us up for an inexplicably sublime amount of unlimited gratitude when they are lifted.
Now I’m so grateful to not wear a mask in a restaurant or store or EVER! I’m grateful to be able to go to friends and families homes again. I’m grateful to not worry about remembering to stay two meters away from the next person and I’m grateful for seeing large groups of people laughing and enjoying life. I’m grateful to be able to get a massage and other body work and look forward to being able to go to workshops and learn about what’s new and exciting in the world again. And I’m also so uber grateful to be able to go on a plane and travel again. I just can’t wait.
One of the best ways to raise our internal vibrations (so we can attract what we want) is to be grateful.
This week, let’s reflect on what new/old freedoms we are grateful for. What simple, little things in your life can you give thanks for? What do you find joy in now that was just a common, everyday, old thing before? What did the pandemic teach you about your life, about yourself? What parts of you are you more grateful for now? And last, but not least, what were your “tomato paste” stories?
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Connie Brisson is the publisher and editor of Mosaic Mind, Body and Spirit Magazine since 2004. From a simple black and white newsprint format that began in 1996, she transformed it into a beautiful full color, gloss magazine that was distributed throughout Alberta, Canada until the end of 2018 (with a readership of over 100,000). It’s now evolved into an online magazine that continues to help people heal, transform and live their best lives. www.mosaicmagazine.ca