This is Oliver.
I met him in Australia last week, and I’ve decided to be him when I grow up.
Oliver is three and a half, and he’s got some things figured out I haven’t yet.
Yes, Oliver is three and a half, except Oliver can’t say the “th” sound yet, so Oliver says he’s “free and a half.”
Free and a half.
And he says it like he means it.
FREE AND A HALF!
I think that’s more truthful anyway than a mere recitation of his age, because I watched Oliver eat an ice cream cone, and he knows there’s magic to be found in the mess and to dive headfirst into the sweet even though it’s sticky there.
I’d even be willing to bet Oliver likes the sweet more because it’s sticky there, which is a level of freedom I’ve rarely obtained, grumping as I do about about the muck and the mess and wishing for a life that’s more clean than cluttered, more joyful than jumbled — more pristine and perfect and orderly and organized than the life I have.
I’ve heard a lot about freedom in my 40 years and I’ve tried to listen to the rules so I can live a life without chains, but it turns out I know more about what it is to feel stuck. Stuck in the darkness. Stuck in my brain. Stuck in my faith. Stuck, well, rather loathing myself.
But in recent years, I’m learning to look for the lights that lead the way to freedom. To abandon the isolation of the Shoulds and the Oughts in favor of the community of Wild Grace and Messy Mamaraderie. To tell you the truth of who I am in the hope you will tell me, too. And to discover that Love really does set us free.
I’m learning to look for the joy in the madness, but not rule out the madness as joy.
I’m learning to look for the sweet in the sticky, but rejoice in the sticky, too.
I’m learning to find the magic in the mess. Because it turns out the life I have is sticky and sweet, magical and mundane, steady and unstable, and more chaotic and crazy and fabulous than I ever planned. I have a funny feeling that’s the path to freedom.
And to finding our way to Free and a Half.