Hello Educators! I sincerely hope that you and yours are well. It has been quite a bit of time since I have posted. I let life run its course, thereby causing my schedule to have minimal time for some of what I find most enriching and sustaining, writing. So, as I reenter my space of sustenance, I am making the conscious decision to continue to do what brings me balance and joy through a process of reflection. Oftentimes when our reality becomes all-consuming, we may find ourselves removing the very elements that are life-giving and doing more of what drains us. What is required of us when we realize this reality, is simply to choose again and this time, choose more appropriately. We are always just a pivot away. For me, writing this blog today is my pivot. Happy to be with you all again.
As I reflect on the most recent holidays that we have celebrated as a country, Juneteenth and Independence Day, I find myself wondering about the idea of freedom. What does it truly mean, and how do we know we have it? Is freedom defined by the masses, or is it deeply personal and constructed within our own consciousness? Or both? Slaves becoming aware of their emancipation is seen as freedom, but is that the case for the newly freed slave living in a society designed to limit the expression of this newfound freedom within its many systems? We honor the date of independence of the United States from British rule, but whose independence was won on this day? Surely not all inhabitants of this land at the time, as is still the case today. We know that our country has a long way to go until freedom can truly ring for all citizens.
Today, I will stray a bit from this aspect of freedom. My focus in this blog is the personal freedom that we believe we have. It is not until we pause long enough to dissect the actions and decisions that we make that we realize that even here we may be puppets in a play we do not remember signing up for. Every choice is likely subject to either a conscious or unconscious normative check that keeps us from getting too far away from mainstream adages and expectations. Thus, even in our thoughts, we are bound and restricted.
Freedom has several definitions such as the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint. Today, I will focus on the following: exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc., and the power to determine action without restraint. It behooves us to ask how free we are to live out our authenticity versus succumbing to the societal norms and expectations that we have ingested for quite some time.
No one outside ourselves can rule us inwardly. When we know this, we become free. - Buddha
The appearance of freedom does not necessarily mean that it is so. From the institutions that we operate in and support; from education, religion, relationships, our profession, to health, and all aspects in between. We would like to think that we have been in the driver’s seat of our lives and made the conscious decisions that have allowed our lives to look as they do now without significant outside influence. I posit that as we go through life and seek to become individuals who are deeply self-aware and seeking to make decisions that support ourselves and others positively, we may be operating from a space of restricted flow and curated thinking.
The question is, how can we become aware of when we are operating from our own truth and authenticity rather than the opinions of others and the acceptable norms of society? How do we know that the life we have built for ourselves is in alignment with who we are and not simply that which maintains a manufactured sense of peace? Freedom is not so because someone says it is. It is freedom when we experience it as such.
There is no true freedom until we are free within ourselves. Until we believe we have the liberty to do what it is that is most true to us despite the blowback, the judgment, the dislikes, the unfriending, the all-out cancel, etc., we are only living in a fabricated space of peace and integrity that we know tears away at who we are…minute by minute.
I am discovering that the work of freedom begins within me. In the solitude of my own thoughts, I can design the reality that serves me best without taking away from the well-being of others. Trust me when I say that I know that this is easier said than done, but it can be done, nonetheless. True freedom for ourselves and others depends upon it.
Marianne Williamson says in her poem, Our Deepest Fear,
And as we let our own light shine, We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, Our presence automatically liberates others.
So…as you continue through life making regular decisions, both small and large, all of which are building blocks of your life experience, ask yourself some of these questions.
Do the decisions that I make align with the truth of who I am?
What external forces, opinions, potential judgments, am I allowing to have undue influence on my decisions?
What do I fear most and is this serving me in this situation?
The answers to these questions are not always the easiest to process and come to terms with. Simply asking, however, allows us all to become much more aware of when we are operating out of obligation and fear rather than out of what we know aligns best with our truth.
Everything can be taken from a man but… the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. - Victor Frankl
There is much to be done to actualize the freedoms bestowed to all in this country and globally. I doubt that this will cease to be the case in my lifetime. Every day, however, we can wake up to the reality that we can decide our own way, define our life path, be agentic in our reality...if we so choose. The choice may often feel like the road less traveled, but when we begin to choose in this way, life as we know it can become less draining and overwhelming, and more abundant and uplifting. How is this resonating for you? Drop a comment and/or share with a friend.
In Solidarity & Love,