What is Freedom anyway? Our first instinct is to think of things like being able to do what you want when you want, having enough money to buy what you want and go where you want, being able to make decisions for yourself without having to consult anyone else. Yet if we start to look at these a bit more, they each have hidden implications. Perhaps these sorts of freedoms come at the expense of having close friends and family in your life. Or having to work long hours to afford them. And some of us might start to question if these things are setting us free, or shutting us out of fulfilling relationships and leisure time.
Sometimes we define freedom by something we don’t have, for example liberty for those in captivity, more money for those who have little, more time for those who don’t have enough hours in the day. Or by something we have that we wish we didn’t have quite so much of, like responsibilities, chores, debts, pain, illness, fear, guilt.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines freedom in a whole bunch of different ways, which perhaps serves to highlight my problem here. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants. The absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. The power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. The state of being unrestricted and able to move easily. Unrestricted use of something. The state of not being subject to or affected by (something undesirable).
So what is it? Really? Honestly, I haven’t a clue – if I find out I’ll let you know. However, I do think it must have something to do with living your life in a way that aligns with who you are and what you value in life. If you are like me, you may never have given such esoterical matters a thought before now. Who am I? What is my purpose in life? I still don’t really know, and I suspect both have changed over the course of my life so far and will no doubt change again as I move forward. But thinking about what I enjoy, not about what I do because others enjoy it, and about what I think is important, rather than what friends, family, or society tells me is important, is opening up new avenues and new vistas, and showing up a few dark corners with a bit of useless clutter that need clearing out.
For me, today at least, freedom means being able to relax in my own home, spend time with my family, and decide how I want to spend my free time. Today, it was writing this. Tomorrow it might be watching Antman and the Wasp. Or going for a walk along the river. Or doing part of a course. Or meeting a friend for lunch. Life is sweet when the world is full of possibilities. The trick is is to reach out and pick at least one each day.