freedom

3 03 2009

I’ve been thinking about freedom recently, possibly because it’s mentioned on half the bumper stickers in my country, and i have begun to be confused as to what the word even means.  I suppose it’s easier for people to get behind a concept that’s as vague as “freedom,” which is why it’s such a political winner, but I also believe that this concept, in as stark a light as one can put it, is central to proper living; to leading a life of wonder, exploration, and expression; to finding one’s direction(s) and following it (them) to conclusion.

What is freedom, after all, when from the moment you are conceived, you are bound to a book of restrictions that you had no part in making?  Without the proper conditions, you will not come to term, will not be born, will not be nourished through infancy.  If you take an inadvisable step as a toddler, you can easily maim your vessel long before you develop your true will in the world, forever altering your ability to do so.  You are bound to a body that has demanding maintenance needs, and even with the most attentive care, it is only available to you for a prescribed amount of time, and much of that time, it will not be serviceable for your desired uses.  Even at your mental and physical peak, you will be greatly limited by a huge number of factors.

If you believe you have a soul, and that your soul has taken this vessel for the glory of a creator or to learn what it needs during its time here, then you can hardly refute the idea that our planet is our prison and our bodies are our cells.  We are born into our corporeal forms, which feel all manner of worldly pain, and we are not allowed out until a lifetime later, when our cells have at long last worn down and finally, grudgingly release us.  We can choose to leave our prison by our own hands at any time, of course, but have no idea what really waits beyond the walls.

At least we are free to act as we like while we’re here, I suppose.  Except, of course, that we’re really not.  If you can forget all of your physical rules, which are oppressive and time-consuming enough, in my opinion, then you are free to begin to worry about all of the man-made rules.  Those doing time here before you had initiative to set up the joint for their greatest benefit, and you have all of the benefit of arriving on the ground floor.  You have papers.  You have licenses and documents to earn and to sign, certificates to display in proof of your proficience at some man-imagined skill or another.  You have interviews, during which you can convince other inmates that you are worthy of their confidence in handling some aspect or another of their operation.  And then you get to perform in that task–this is the part where you’re being productive, viable, and useful to the world around you.  But again, this is almost always, in the cages man has set up, only to serve men higher up in the cage than you.  You’re seldom helping the world around you.  In fact, you’re usually doing quite the opposite.  You’re injuring the real LAW–the natural world, the only link besides ourselves that we may have to the force that keeps us here–in order to serve man’s law–the only force that is nakedly invented to service only itself.  And all the attention we all give to this unnatural structure serves only to strengthen it and keep our focus off of the real quandary of our existences.

There is still so much freedom that we have in the natural world, though, I think.  People love love, I belive, and we love to find another person who makes us feel funny and wonderful and happy and as with whom we should perform sexy acts.  It’s funny, we never have these ideas on our own, really, we just realize at some point that we’re driven to make this thing happen, and suddenly it’s a very important thing to us, and some of us spend inordinate amounts of time pursuing it.  Much of this time also happens to be our “prime time” physically and mentally, when we’re about as sharp as we’re ever going to be.

Even if I forget about all the lack of freedom I perceive in being a part of the world, I can’t help but find emotional traps waiting for us every step of the way.  Any former lover, friend, pet, vacation, coincidence, or embarrassment is a weight tied to our beings by the strings of our memories.  Learning is nothing more than strapping on another bag and keeping it near to help you make any new decisions that might be related.  Even something as vaunted as our precious brains and their wondrous capacities for remembering and thinking critically serve to close up our worlds, little by little, until our legs are obliged no further steps.

Perhaps that is the trick to our journeys, then—or at least our passages.  We are set “free” in a world, counted upon to self-educate, to build a homeostasis, to exist as best we can, and we have indulged ourselves foolishly to our souls’ capacities, until finally our once-buoyant selves can no longer carry on after years of weighting and hardening.  And death may be the greatest gift we’ll know—when we are liberated at last from our world of entanglements, confusions, and delusions because we were, in the end, unable to liberate ourselves.

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