Everyone relishes their freedom. Everyone wants to have the freedom to think, speak and to act, without restraint. There are questions pertaining to what is freedom before we can reflect on what it means? And what do we want to do with freedom?
Why do we feel trapped?
As a youth, I had thought to be happy meant I would not be restricted to doing what I wanted; mainly to travel, meet different people and to think and say what I want. But the reason why I thought those things meant being out of the cage was that I had no means to do what I wanted. On the contrary, I had to support myself financially as my family did not have any savings for a rainy day. I realised the reason we want to feel free is because we are unable to accept certain realities in our lives.
What to do with freedom?
We have failed to ask why we want so much liberty? To be able to talk as much as we want, drink a lot, and be promiscuous? To be in a holiday resort forever? Or to have a lot of money to do what we want on a whim? Does liberty come with responsibility? Despite the fight for free expression, we have seen much irresponsibility with the freedom that people are given.
Freedom is a thought
Through many meditations and reflections, I finally came to realise why it is so hard to define liberty. That’s because all of us have different ideas of what it means, based on conditioned perceptions. My idea of freedom was based on the inability to accept my family’s situation thus I longed for a carefree life. Today my idea of it is totally different, for I am no longer burdened with accumulating a safety nest.
Freedom has nothing to do with what one is able to do or not do physically. It is the inability to let go of a certain thought that is why we feel trapped. Fear causes it, so does not being able to get what one wants. It also pertains to not being able to get rid of what one does not want.
Let go of thoughts
The reason I chose to write about freedom was that my mind felt trapped in certain thoughts lately. It gave me no rest. While admiring moving clouds, I realised I had been striving for outcomes. I wanted an outcome for my work and relationships. This had been going on for a while in my head, making me burdened. I remember feeling joy when I was just doing it for the sake of it, not seeking anything. Mindfulness allowed me to choose my thoughts and to discern the thoughts which made me feel joyful and free. The moving clouds and the activities going on in the HDB flats in the foreground reminded me how everything is always moving and changing. And today, I managed to feel free, even though I am still staying in the same house, with the same financial status and same friends.
Freedom comes from within, not without.