On Freedom

Dear quarter lives, 

Every body deserves to be free, to feel free, to act and communicate with freedom. But what does it mean to be free? And what is freedom without a cage, a wall, a boundary to resist? Can there be such a thing as freedom if there weren’t such a thing as restriction? What door does limitation offer freedom without which it cannot find itself? These are all questions that have been contemplated, questioned and even attempted to be answered by some of the greatest minds ever known to philosophy. And yet, it is one of those questions that’s not the task of anyone else to answer for us. Only we can authentically answer what freedom means to us — to our specific context, to our specific body and self. To define freedom is to box it into a universal that is bound to become particular once again. The search for freedom is itself the teacher of freedom. It is important when undertaking such a journey to ask ourselves what we are seeking freedom from. Is it the confines of our body, the inescapable thoughts of our mind, is it the judgment of others, or perhaps it is the judgment of God himself? It is important to ask because it is only through recognising that limitation, through acknowledging what we feel restricts us, what we feel holds us back, can we transcend those boundaries and actually find our own particular freedom by knowing what roadblocks have been placed on our path. Sometimes these blockages are of our own doing, sometimes they are the doing of people who love us, sometimes they are the doing of the world, and sometimes they are the doing of time and many other times things just are the way they are — placed by God or by us who knows either way there are restrictions we must learn to love to be able to break through them and break free of them. One such restriction might be that we cannot turn back time, we cannot stop our growing old or the passing of time through which we lose our youth, our parents and our friends. Can you imagine what it would be like to be free of change, free of being moulded by it? I can’t. I don’t think my mind has the capacity to imagine that which is truly impossible. Everything changes all the time. Even the dead change. A leaf that falls off a tree eventually morphs into the ground or finds itself carried to a body of water that will alter its form, eat it and eventually become one with it. We are all that leaf, all in a process of being eaten and merging with the world until we eventually become a Whole. But is there freedom in such a trajectory? Is there freedom in what will already be? Can there be freedom in living and dying? Is it possible to transcend that which we cannot break away from? How do we free ourselves while simultaneously rooting and belonging more deeply to life? How do we safely make the passage to freedom without jeopardising the certainty and safety of being locked in, of being held by the world? 

I have asked more questions than have given answers but such is life. It is more valuable to ask than to answer, more useful to make certain things uncertain than to make uncertain things certain for the latter is seldom possible. I am a human being whose form of prayer is to ask — not to instill doubt but to bring about faith — for faith can only truly find us in the spaces where uncertainty resides. If you know a table is solid, you don’t need to believe that it is. But if you cannot see the edges of a table, you will wonder, you will imagine and you will ask until you are brought back into the arms of faith once again. Freedom is not that different, in the sense that we cannot be certain we are free, we cannot be certain we are not — and in that space in between is where freedom lies but the key to that space is, like with faith, a question. A question that opens you up to the reality of your freedom, that allows you to live freely instead of dream freely. So ask away until there is but one question left to ask, and in that moment you might choose to ask it or you might realise that you don’t need to because you now know that you knew all along.

With love and always for peace,