When I hear the word “freedom,” an inner bell sounds off inside my heart.
I have only recently understood that freedom is my ultimate quest in this lifetime. 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 said apology is called for, of course!).
But there is an inner struggle — a tug-of-war that seeks to prevent this from coming to full fruition. Because on the other side of this rope is the 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 truth because I didn’t know my truth.
Since embarking on my spiritual journey fifteen plus years ago, I have practiced—failed, succeeded, and all possibilities in between—expressing myself to not just people who 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 fear of being considered ungracious, accommodating, or ungrateful. These fears and the thought streams that go with them have a powerful, almost hypnotic effect on me. But every day I am practicing.
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. So, I accept these moments with a smile and a compassionate “there I go again” acknowledgment.
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 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 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 version of me.
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.”
Serene Voyager, my Soul, 2015