For many people, July 4 is just another day off. A time to kick back, relax and have a bit of fun in the sun, mingling with family and friends. Time for celebrating independence from the fast-paced, technological lifestyle of the new millennium. This year, the weather painted a much darker picture. As ominous gray clouds and a cool breeze infiltrated the atmosphere, it was so easy for me to stay nestled in my cozy warm house with a good book. In the back of my head, I kept thinking about how I was going to make this a spectacular holiday despite the dismal weather pattern. Then if matters couldn't be any worse, my mind drifted to worries about finding a lucrative job in Western New York to pay off my skyrocketing bills.

As many of you know, this is not an easy burden to put aside. Thousands of us are in the same boat. We are desperately searching for a way to stay afloat amidst the tumultuous corporate storm. We not only want to find satisfaction in earning an income to support ourselves, but the emotional fulfillment of working in a company that gives us the opportunity to grow both personally and professionally.

As I ponder these thoughts, I pick up a publication entitled The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron. For weeks, I hadn't developed the concentration to read anything overly detailed and deep. Today however, I allowed my stagnant brain cells to absorb the creative insight of an experienced writer.

After reading for awhile, it was time for the holiday festivities to begin. My family and I joined friends for an indoor picnic. While sitting comfortably at the table eating barbecued chicken, potato salad and corn on the cob, I looked outside the glass- enclosed window of the dining room to the view of a backyard wilderness. Hundreds of leafy green trees and plants surrounded us, creating an interior nature preserve. It wasn't until we started eating dinner in this room when I began to recognize the importance of finding happiness in the moment.

Our next stop whisked us into an amusement park called Fantasy Island. What a treat this turned out to be! Since it was after 5:00 p.m., we were able to pass through the gate without charge. We began an adventure of a lifetime with a long-awaited train ride that pleasantly chugged along the perimeter of the park. Riding a gondola atop the lighted Ferris wheel, gave us a different perspective on our town. Then, we drove the antique cars along a winding track, paddled canoes in the pond, and watched the famous shoot-out in Western Town.

For the grand finale, we sat under the picnic pavilion while watching a spectacular fireworks display. For approximately thirty minutes, hundreds of sizzling colors lit up the night sky. There were variations in design from red, green and white to pink, purple and blue. People were scattered everywhere from one end of the park to the other to see this colorful fusion of light.

As I sat there eating a large piece of sugar-covered fried dough, my mood began to change. Suddenly, I was transported to my childhood when things were less complicated. I remember being in this same park years ago, spinning around on the rides, eating sticky cotton candy, and playing carnival games. Even tonight, everyone's spirits were happier and lighter than usual. There was no talk about corporate layoffs, school shootings, and capital punishment.

Looking up into that magical sky, I felt like life could be fun again even for just a day; that I could temporarily put aside my concerns and discover independence from all earthly problems. Tomorrow would be here soon enough with its share of cliffhanger sagas, but tonight would still remain young and carefree; blasting forth with childlike exuberance and simple pleasures.

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