Later this week, we will celebrate our nation’s independence. July 4th brings me memories of gatherings with family and friends, barbecues, parades, and fireworks. This year will be very different for most of us. I started to think about what independence means more broadly and it got me thinking about a speech made by Jim Valvano at the ESPN Espy awards less than two months before he died in 1993. For those of you who don’t know about Coach V, he was the coach of the overachieving NC State Wolfpack that won the NCAA basketball championship in 1983. When he got to the podium that day in March, 1993, his body was wracked with cancer and he was clearly in a lot of pain so much so that two people had to help him get to the podium. He is probably most remembered for saying “never give up, never ever give up” but what I remember most about his speech was what he said about living life. “When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it’s the same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”
On this Independence Day, remember to celebrate your independence to think, your independence to help others, your independence to communicate with one another, your independence to make the world a better place each day.
I hope you have a wonderful July 4th holiday. Remember to laugh and think and cry. Enjoy your independence.
This week’s selections are below:
- The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Identical twins run away at 16 from a stifling small town to 50s New Orleans, where their lives divide: one “passes” as white and marries a white man. But what will happen when the paths of their daughters cross? Bennett’s second novel is an expertly plotted and empathetic exploration of race, identity and colourism in the tradition of Toni Morrison.
- The Last Trial by Scott Turow
At eighty-five years old, Alejandro "Sandy" Stern, a brilliant defense lawyer with his health failing but spirit intact, is on the brink of retirement. But when his old friend Dr. Kiril Pafko, a former Nobel Prize winner in Medicine, is faced with charges of insider trading, fraud, and murder, his entire life's work is put in jeopardy, and Stern decides to take on one last trial.
- We Need to Talk about the British Empire – Afua Hirsch speaks to six people about their family history and how their lives have been impacted by the British Empire.