Freedom and independence
Updated: Aug 10, 2018
As the USA celebrates Freedom this week, I find myself thinking about a much smaller kind of freedom. Individual freedom. In the yoga class that I attend the teacher, while holding us in some challenging pose, will say “see if you can find one small space where you could have some freedom… maybe find ease in your shoulders or your neck, maybe check to see if your breath is flowing, maybe unclench your teeth.” It’s good advice – this searching for freedom – especially in the midst of challenge. We tend to make life hard for ourselves sometimes.
I have recently taken to trying to recognize that there is practically nothing that I “HAVE” to do. I don’t have to wash the dishes, or take out the garbage, or go to the dentist. None of us has to go to work, or study for an exam, or make sure our kids brush their teeth. We don’t have to take medicine, have surgery, attend staff meetings or be a good neighbor. The truth is that we choose to do onerous things because we want the benefits that derive from doing them. We go to work every day because we want to have a certain kind of lifestyle. We take care of our kids because we value having healthy, safe kids. We do the dishes because we want to have a sanitary place to eat our food. There are always options. And, somehow when I recognize that I am CHOOSING to do things that are onerous, they become less onerous and I feel that tiny measure of freedom that I didn’t realize I had. I have also come to realize that when I believe there is something that I HAVE to do, perhaps that is not true. I seem to always have more freedom than I claim.
Here’s a poem by Julia Hartwig about all this
Demand it Courageously
Make some room for yourself, human animal.
Even a dog jostles about on his master’s lap
to improve his position.
And when he needs space he runs forward
without paying attention to commands or calls.
If you didn’t manage to receive freedom as a gift,
demand it as courageously as bread and meat.
Make some room for yourself,
human pride and dignity.
The Czech writer Hrabel said:
I have as much freedom as I take.
~ Julia Hartwig