When do you feel free? My friends in New York and California weighed in and many had overlapping ideas. (My friends tend to be middle-class, leftist, non-religious and educated, so this is a highly slanted and incomplete list. Everyone’s interpretation of freedom depends on how they identify and in which country/community they live.)
- When we have the house to ourselves. As in, roommates/spouses went out for a while and left us in peace and privacy.
- When we’re on vacation and face no deadlines or responsibilities. There are entire cultures without To-Do lists but America is a career-motivated culture where doing “nothing” is not well received.
- When final exams are over. I remember after one semester I listened to Indigo Girls’ “Reunion” on repeat for a week. They sing, “It feels so funny to be free.”
- When we go out alone. One friend specified a hiking a trail near her house but solitude in any configuration can be freeing. The rally song for this is, of course, Jason Derulo’s “Ridin’ Solo.”
- When practicing our Hobbies. Specific answers included dancing when feeling the rhythm, swimming, pranayama and wakeboarding. We are privileged to have enough free time to support our hobbies.
- When we have full access to transportation. Specific answers included a full tank of gas and an unlimited Metrocard (a NYC buspass for grown-ups.)
- When we have just a few personal possessions. Ownership sometimes comes with clutter and stress. It’s a lot to keep track of, to keep clean and to keep from getting stolen. I rear-ended someone a few weeks ago which resulted in having my car’s value assessed. I’ll go ahead and say, on the record, that I feel free driving my shitty car. I don’t have to be nervous about it getting scratched or dented. It’s all about functionality, and it runs just fine.
- When we’re healthy. Specific answers included being cancer-free for five years and being free from chronic back pain. We never realize how important our body is (even the left pinky toe) until that piece is taken out of commission. If you’re healthy, you are blessed (or whatever the secular word is for blessed.)
One of my yoga teachers says, “Nothing gold can stay” and “the only true freedom is death.” While I agree that no human can feel free 24/7, Liberation Theology says that we all deserve to be free from oppression while we’re alive. Those of us who have experienced freedom are very lucky and often opportunistic.
What makes you feel free? Add it to the Comments section!