Freedom is both high priced and highly prized. Is it really, like the song says, that freedom means having nothing left to lose? Being free of attachments means being free of the pain of loss and fear of losing our precious relationships and possessions, but at what cost? There is also freedom from being beholden to anyone, not being obligated to do things in our relationships that we would not freely do.
Not having expectations of people or even of ourselves is to be free of disappointment. To live in a world where we take heed of Kipling’s “If” and no one counts too much for us. The price we pay for this freedom is to live in a hollow world where it’s not better to have loved and lost – just to be free of mourning a loss.
And yet it’s also in the pursuit of freedom that we strive to acquire enough money so that we can do as we like instead of having to do as we must. We engage in relationships to be free of loneliness. If freedom is the ability to avoid negative things like disappointment, loss, grief, and loneliness, then what do we call it when we strive for better things? What is it called when a person seeks an attachment to let their souls soar? What is it called when our expectations are high and we strive to be our better selves? To love someone selflessly and find that they heal our souls? What is this thing that uplifts our spirit? Is the winged thing called Hope or Freedom? What is this force called that marries Hope to Freedom, if it isn’t called Love?
Freedom, Hope, and Love – the holy trinity of Happiness. And while we might seek happiness from others and from things, the holy trinity can only come from our own minds, in our hearts and souls. A person must cultivate each one at a time and learn how to let those feelings be at home with us. So let’s start with Freedom. Each choice that we make is an expression of our freedom. When we have no choice, it’s because we’ve given away our freedom in exchange for some other commodity often at the expense of our happiness. Freedom is like air – it’s something we seldom really think about until we don’t have it. To me, freedom in my work means doing something I love. And freedom in my relationships means giving freely and without expectations and all parties being there because we want to be.
Thinking about what freedom means to each of us is the first step towards having it. We can work towards freedom or we can let nature take charge in the rhythm of our lives. While in youth we strive to acquire and are slaves to our wants, in old age we want to shed these things and in that we find freedom. Actively seeking freedom means that we can consciously choose to have only as much as we need and no more.
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.