Freedom… Enjoy It!
“Freedom discovers the man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make.” – Bruce Lee
To be free… that is the desire of all men and women isn’t it? But what freedom means to one individual may be the opposite of what it means to another. And a person may appear to be free in some ways while completely enslaved in others, as in an addiction to alcohol or drugs for example. So relative freedom is desired by all if not most and we work to find that balance of freedom in our lives. We’d love to have absolute or complete freedom over our lives, yet, at some point it becomes apparent to us that absolute freedom cannot be attained – freedom from death, for the eventuality of all is the grave. It would be wise to set on living a life of relative freedom while we are very much alive and well.
We spend much time in worry about how others may perceive our attempt at acting with a free mind but must come to recognize their impression matters little if we are to be truly free. There’s the expression that people will think what they want and it’s true. No matter how much we try – we will only please some of the people SOME of the time and rarely, if ever, please all the people ALL of the time. What matters most is how WE feel about the impression we made because that determines what we do and how we act. If we are overly concerned about how someone views us or how we’ve made them feel we lose the freedom to move about as we wish. Instead we’ve allowed to a greater or lesser extent someone else to determine what we do.
This is not a bad thing and in fact may be a very good thing – depending on the circumstances. For example, if we want to acquire work we will do what we need to make a favorable impression on a potential employer. Or if we want to win a lover’s heart we’ll act to make a lasting impression. But beyond that and in the daily affairs of our life we want to guard against losing our innate freedom to think and move as ourselves. Perhaps better still we’ll want to fight to regain the freedom we may have already lost. These are good reasons to consider the impression we make on others and there are many more. Yet, our individuality is not dependent on these impressions.
The environment we are born into and the early years of our lives play a pivotal role in the amount of freedom we have lost or gained and where we may need to regain our strength in this regard again. Imagine if you were born in a country where personal liberty was not allowed and where others dictated your place in society. What a tough existence. And if that’s all you knew, and you wanted to break free – imagine the pain in facing the obstacles to your own God given right to freedom.
I agree wholeheartedly with the expression made by the late great martial artist Bruce Lee quoted above. I was locked in a religious environment which chipped away at individual freedoms within the supposedly secure confines of worship. It wasn’t until I was on the outside looking in that I realized how much individual freedom I had lost, and in my case had actually never known. Some of it lost by chance to be born into a family that worshipped within a strict structure and some given away by my inability to say no when I meant no. Within organized group worship the acceptance of the whole becomes more important than self-acceptance. In the belief system I was raised in when you did well you were praised by everyone and when you didn’t do well you were judicially disciplined, sometimes severely if necessary and if it came to it even shunned by the whole as I was.
It was in losing the perceived protection of the whole that I actually begin to gain my own individual freedom. Gradually, as the ingrained feelings of guilt began to melt away, I began to make decisions in which the ultimate outcome was owned by me and me alone. There came a point, and I recall it clearly, when the overwhelming concern over the impression I made dissolved and I began to focus on the doing and in expressing myself individually.
Every male and female is born into this world well equipped to be the individual contributor they were meant to be. It’s up to us to realize our potential and use life up. In this country, we can be as free as we want in every sense of the word. In other parts of the world, actual physical freedom may not be readily available, yet we see the efforts many are making to achieve physical, mental and emotional freedom from the bonds that hold them. I hold these individuals in esteem and pray they achieve the relative freedoms they seek within their lifetime, being well aware we will each of us eventually face the same fate – that fate which prevents us from ever attaining absolute freedom.
In the meantime, I will continue to seek out and enjoy the relative freedom available to me and I encourage you to do the same.
© Marc Townsendby