Freedom is about having choices. When we are free, we determine the course of our own lives. We make decisions about the kind of life we wish to lead, and then we act on them. Freedom is power. It’s having the right to think, act, and feel however we like, so long as we don’t impose on the freedom of others. Freedom carries the weight of responsibility, as well. When we are free, we are responsible for our lives. We must accept that each situation presents us with a choice, and we must own the choices we make. Freedom is about time, too. How we spend the time we are given, and the activities with which we choose to fill the minutes, hours, days. How many of us consciously decide though? How often do we stop to reexamine our choices? Are we living our lives on autopilot for others, or are we making choices every day that reflect our values and who we are?
Helene Johnson wrote, Would you sell the colors of your sunset and the fragrance / Of your flowers, and the passionate wonder of your forest / For a creed that will not let you dance? On this, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Would you? Have you? What kind of creed have we accepted that tells us that we are of no value unless we are working ourselves to death? What kind of creed have we adhered to that tells us that doing is superior to being? What belief have we accepted that suggests that, if we are not rushing and hurrying, we have no meaning?
We don’t have time for sunsets, fragrances of flowers, or ‘the passionate wonder of our forests.’ We don’t even see sunsets, flowers, or forests. Do they still exist?
Dancing surely must be for pagans who don’t have to make money. We used to dance before we became so important.”
If freedom is having choices, then people who do too much have sacrificed theirs in an attempt to do it all. To be everything to everyone. We have imprisoned ourselves in an illusion that we have no choice, because we don’t want to admit that this is the reality we have chosen. We are so caught up in our desire to attain status, money, power, perfection that we neglect to choose ourselves and happiness every once in a while. We say no to taking the time to explore and discover, to witness the beauty of the world, to try new things. What is the point of living if we never choose to enjoy it? To really live? Are our perceived success and status really worth sacrificing our happiness for? Freedom means letting go of false ideas of control and perfection. Freedom means recognizing that we choose our own path, and no one else can control us. There is always time for rest. To enjoy a sunset. To focus on building oneself up. Our work will always be there. Sacrificing our needs and neglecting ourselves to focus instead on work will not bring us any closer to our goals, and in fact, only harms us. Life is meant for more than just work. Freedom means being aware of the choices we are making and that we can choose differently in the future.