When I hear the word “freedom,” an inner bell sounds off inside my heart. I have only just recently truly understood that this is my ultimate quest in this lifetime – the quest for complete and total freedom. Not so much a freedom from, but a freedom to. It means the freedom to be myself, to do what I enjoy, to say “no” and “yes” and “I don’t know” with equal comfort and non-attachment. To live, love, support, walk away, request…all without defending or apologizing for myself (unless I step on your foot!)
But there is an inner struggle – a tug-of-war that prevents this from coming into full fruition — yet. Because on the other side of this rope, pulling away from freedom back into the confinement of should’s and ought-to’s is the sum total of my conditioning: collective, societal, personal, karmic and situational. As a girl growing up in the Midwest, I learned to hold, to accept, to grin-and-bear-it, to shrink to make others more comfortable. In the pull and expectation to please others, I slowly and inevitably lost myself. I couldn’t own my own truth because I didn’t know my truth.
Since embarking on my spiritual journey ten plus years ago, I have practiced (which means failed, succeeded and all possibilities in between) expressing myself — my positions, my desires, my opinions — to not just people that hold similar positions, but to those whom I know hold contradictory ones.
But this is an ongoing practice. I sometimes find that when my truth rubs against the grain of the popular or loudest opinion, I tuck mine away for fear of being not being liked or included or being thought of as ungracious or unaccommodating…or worse. This fear and the thought streams that go with it has a powerful effect on me, but I am learning, little by little, to let it go and live in freedom.
I don’t have it figured out. Sometimes, in my quest to practice and live my desire for freedom, I overshoot the mark and end up being harsher than I intend. More forceful than I need to be. Less tactful than I would like to be. But the road to the point of stillness within the freedom I seek is not a straight line, and I accept these moments with a smile and a compassionate “there I go again” acknowledgement.
So, if one day you find yourself caught in the cross-hairs of my messy, inconsistent, even incoherent effort to express my truth; if you notice that my hands shake or that my voice cracks or that frown lines appear as I attempt to find, put together and share my deepest truth with you, I hope three things: 1) that you realize that I trust you enough to give it a go with you as my witness, 2) that you can accept and still love this less put-together part of me and 3) that you will dig down and express your deepest truth right back to me, which will give me the needed courage to go out and do it again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
“If you continue on, fighting for the freedom to live and explore this life, the freedom to find Truth for yourself, the freedom to share and honor your voice, your body, your life, you will learn a great lesson: the human quest for freedom, authenticity and truth is exquisitely and simultaneously beautiful and painful, harrowing and fruitful, blinding and intimate, impossible and possible. None of this should stop you. All of it will free you.”
My Soul, 2015