Pondering the Word “Free”

For a word that is so easily commoditized, so easily politicized—freedom or free—seems so elusive to define. If you try and ask any one person to define it, you’ll most likely get a different answer. Some personalize it—others equate it with knowledge; others say it’s the innocence that lies uncontested in a babe. But perhaps “free” is a word that means everything and yet connotes nothing.

I am not one of those people that feel at liberty to engage in long political, sociological, and spiritual discussions in the open. It is not from lack of an opinion—as I am highly opinionated. Rather, it is my desire to not disrobe myself at all times and make everyone else disrobe as well, because those things touch upon the inner core of a person. So I save that for those well accustomed to my nudity. But what I will share is something or rather a metamorphosis that has been occurring within my person.

Over the last few months, I have been experiencing something that was causing a disturbance within my person. What that is—will be my little secret. However it is something that I wrestled with and fought strongly against—because I did not want to concede that I could have my eyes wide open and still be fully blind. Living in a Western country, the concept of individualism is taken for granted. We don’t even question it really—just accept it as fact. Failure and success, while may be owing to outside forces—is all for the individual’s taking. But what if I—in an autonomous sort of way—didn’t really exist? What if you—we—are almost always part of something else. What then would the word “free” mean?

In almost all variations or definitions of the word, the idea of free, is highly individualized. You are—I am—free. But to even begin to comprehend that you have to stand and ask yourself who am I? What are the things that go into making me—me? Say for example, you play around with the formula that is your life, and a certain set of circumstances were changed—would you still be you? If you were born in a different place, your parents were in different places in their life when they had you, you married younger, went to a different school—would you still be you?

If you believe in the infinity of the soul, you’ll naturally answer that yes, but to be honest, is this not something to think about harder? I ask this because the concept of I—as an egotistical projection—is a very deceptive thing. We want to believe that all that we are (with assistance acknowledged) is a progeny of self. Even the most intellectually rebellious of us, sees this as truth. And it because of this, we have normalized the very things we should question the most; rationalize inequities as a natural part of existence. Because if you always see yourself as independent and freedom as personal, you never truly challenge things that actually fly in the face of that notion.

For me I have come to realize that the word “free” is not something I can so easily define. Perhaps people we suppose to be less free—due to socio-economical or political circumstances—have a firmer grasp on the term, because they are aware of it, while those of us that are more “cultured” tend to be sleepwalking even when we suppose we are wide awake. In reality, there are no true answers to that. But what I do know—or more aptly am slowly coming to grasp, is that I am who I am, not because of me. I am just one part into the equation and for me the search for freedom is lifelong.

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