"How can I set free anyone who doesn't have the guts to stand up alone and declare his own freedom? I think it's a lie, people claim they want to be free, everybody insists that freedom is what they want the most, the most sacred and precious thing a man can possess. But that's bullshit! People are terrified to be set free; they hold on to their chains. They fight anyone who tries to break those chains. It's their security. How can they expect me or anyone else to set them free if they don't really want to be free?" - Jim Morrison
Freedom a wonderful yet terrible thing. With freedom comes responsibility...and there's a quote using those words but I can't quite recall what it was exactly. But people look around them on a daily basis and wonder about why they do the things that they do. Phrases like 'force of habit' and 'prisoner of fate' are all too common. And in a way, that's what people do...they complain but don't make the effort to make a difference in their lives. My friend Priya actually wrote about this on her blog...and in a way it's the way things are with some of us. So what do we really want? To be free? To complain about being in shackles?...the same shackles we readily accepted not more than a day ago? Or do we want to be masters of our own private universes...because as lord and master we would imagine ourselves to be truly free.
And what is freedom anyway? Are we free when we can walk into a mom-and-pop store and can choose from a thousand varieties of candy? Or are we free when we can take a bold step forward and decide to settle down in a country of our own choice? Or are we free if we renounce the world, go into a forest, and spend the rest of our days in meditation (which was an option I've been considering, actually)? I think it's important to understand what it is we're trying to be free from; a 'frame of reference' so to speak. Is the acquisition of wealth a means to freedom? Have you seen a hardworking rich person really happy? I don't know...I haven't... Wait. Come to think of it, there are a couple of eccentric people that I have met, and they seemed to be enjoying their lives. Not because they were spending their money in ways unimaginable, but because they realized that the money they had wasn't the be-all and end-all of their existence. And then there are those who we would consider to be 'less forunate', but when you see them going about their day with the biggest most amazing smiles on their faces you can't help but wonder where the happiness comes from.
So, what is it that we're trying to be free from? In Pt. 1 I talked about some stuff that I kept going back to; a prisoner to them, if you will. But there comes a point in time when I'm torn between the idea of being free and putting it all behind me, and holding on to them for the twisted energy that they give me. Perhaps its such an integral part of my life, that I'm relying on them to form part of my 'comfort zone'...as uncomfortable as they may be. I mean, its wierd, but if you think about stuff that often comes back to you...bad events in your life...and you wonder why they do, perhaps you should think about why you're thinking about them to begin with. Do they come back on their own?...or do you bring them back?
So, are we trying to be free? Can we find freedom in an unquestioning life?...a life where we carry on without trying to go against anyone and without breaking any rules? Or is true freedom the ultimate victory against 'the system'?
And how do you declare your own freedom? Do you shout it from the mountaintop at the top of your lungs? Do you write it down and look at it everyday? Or do you begin to believe that you are free? You know, identify the restraints that you're trying to be free of and believing that you're above them. Isn't that a scary choice? What's on the other side? What next? Some of the greatest thinkers began with an idea that defied all convention, and they held on to it for dear life...because it's all they had...their expression of a 'free' soul. They persevered, they bore persecution, and many of them came through with flying colors. (Thanks for the G.B. Shaw quote Avi). Were they free?
When I started looking at the quote it slowly dawned on me, and although my first reaction was to say, "Freedom is all in the mind...mind over matter...that sort of thing," I looked closer and realized that freedom is one of those things that people can either accept or choose to understand. We can accept it blindly and lead very happy lives...or we can attempt to understand and write endlessly about everything and nothing. And for those of us who cling to messiahs, or prophets, or even gods...what is it we seek from them...wisdom? Or just the ability to know that it's a means of asking someone to fulfill shallow wishes? There is tremendous responsibility associated with freedom, and maybe that's what keeps us from embracing it completely. Perhaps that's what keeps us in the middle...complaining about the fact that we're not free...but wanting a 'no strings attached' version of it. And that's the conundrum that faces us from day to day...and the way we deal with this...well, it can lead us to great heights or miserable lows. Here's to freedom...and to the hope of achieving it that keeps us going forward.
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