Do You Know the Meaning of Freedom?
The following is a excerpt from A Million Different Things: Meditations of The World’s Happiest Man, revised for online.
Is freedom something you value?
Freedom is something most of us think we have, and while it’s likely to be true, the underlying question is whether we use it. Declaring for freedom can be a chancy step outside the ordinary. Take marriage as an example.
Are the couples bound by mutual affection and interest or by what a friend of mine used to jokingly call “holy padlock?”
If partners in a marriage run their lives as a series of compromises driven by the demands of the partnership, what may have started with freedom of choice is no longer free. We know this to be true, but it doesn’t adversely influence our actions because freedom is less important to us than stable, long-term relationships.
As these are central to so many lives, in the practice or the wishing, we might keep in mind that they can be freedom killers. Remember the childhood game that included “paper covers rock?” Well, security crushes liberty.
This & More…
Keeping in mind that none of us has anything but that one single moment of reality to live and everything else, past and future, is imaginatively stretched out for perspective, is it wise to surrender it to a security that is not voluntary, but automatic and predictable?
How much value is washed away with the loss of free choice?
Choice is the value-maker of the world. Until we choose, we have no motive for determining the value of anything. It’s inconsequential, idle activity.
Make a Choice about Freedom
If our walks through life involve well-worn paths followed without anticipation about what will be experienced or if they are taken with security guaranteed, we end up chewing some pretty stale grains, the nutrients of which will never cause us to flourish.
The characteristics of the estuary would change, taking it from calm to powerful, even to ominous. The sky held an endless variety of clouds and clarity. Overcast skies varied most, the inexplicable bottoms of the clouds folding, smoothing, roiling or hanging still. Certainly, the air temperature as I walked through the seasons went from balmy to frigid with many stops in between. Winds flavor any day differently than any other.
Fellow commuters walking along the waterfront, seldom anyone I knew, gave me new things to observe about relationships and isolation. Most importantly, my moods, my states of mind, were different.
All the factors that affected me, from my concentration on the working hours ahead and domestic life to my private meditations on the intimacies of existence, salted how I felt, saw and interpreted the world I rambled through.
Peters, a man awash with fresh ideas, used contrast to press the importance of making even our routines exciting and colorful. If we stay awake, each day can be full of invention and discovery. Joy can be our most common experience.
Rambling for Abundance
front of my thoughts like a chant, encouraging me to look for and appreciate the realities I’d been given.
The practice also reminded me that abundance is my natural environment, that life is rich with experiences and that it’s impossible to imagine anything without having the resources for getting it. I’d never be restricted, except by my own choice, from accessing objects of desire.
When, however, we’re sure that our genuine desires are always fulfilled, we’re forced take a different position concerning what happens next. This insight took me to a new place, one where I was not only privileged to have but also fully responsible for getting to understand in detail, fleshed out, whatever it was I truly wanted.
Having this left no time or space for that. Days, I realized in a way I never previously had, were limited to twenty-four hours, and any week still consisted of no more than seven.
If I was going to shock the world and become the first fifty year old to launch a successful career in major league baseball, I had to accept the terms. That meant far more time away from home than had ever been of interest to me. I enjoyed the pleasures of being home. I also loved travel, but a working life on the road is much less attractive.
My books might grab the public’s attention. Not every writer can afford the eccentricities of Thomas Pynchon or J. D. Salinger and ignore the rabble. Even those two seemed more stressed at times by the demands created for evading fans than they might’ve been in accommodating them.
So, I could sit at the head of line, doling out endless autographs in anonymous bookstores, or I’d visit talk shows where the viewer concentration required was not allowed to interfere with the demands of brushing teeth or preparing for sleep.
Thinking It Through and Making the Choice for Freedom
As long as we are awake in every moment, we constantly refine or tune our choices. We anticipate what comes next and how it will impact the future.
The thing is that some of us never change the flavors of our lives much at all, which leaves us walking the same trails to the same places. We settle into a groove and stay, which is fine if it’s a happy groove, but as humans, our spirits thrive on change just as our bodies flourish with a variety of healthful foods. Disability and disease strike when we neglect nutrients.
Similar dysfunctions must occur when we fail to nourish our souls.
So, why not use our freedom to make a commitment to our passions? Why not decide to dance or sing or build equations or teach children or care for the disabled or drive a race car or paint or write poetry or march in a drum corps?
Not long ago, I read a claim that when we are not awake, making conscious choices, we gravitate into some sort of default activity.
This can’t be true. If for no other reason, it can’t be true because the default attitude, the mindset with which we are born, for people and all other living things, is gracefully passionate wanting. It’s spiced in humans with imagining and the steady revising that marks us as the most avidly thinking creatures of all.
Worms are worms, and cats enact whatever magical activity strikes their fancy.
We can’t lose passion without making a clear choice about it. Our desire doesn’t wane from any lack of use, although it might get rusty. It’s always present, from first breath to last, always ready to fire our engines.
Something must persuade us to look away. Waking sleep is by no means a default. It’s marked by evasions into which we are drawn and intentionally follow.
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