Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating Freedom

I'm certain that the observation has been made before by many others, but a certain irony is hitting home for me today as I consider America's independence. As much as we seem to value our freedom politically, we sometimes make odd choices personally. In fact, many people I know have chosen their own form of slavery in their lives, whether it is slavery to a job, to certain relationships, to an addiction of some form or another, or just a set of beliefs about themselves.

I don't mean to say that work and relationships are bad things, but there is a potential for us to use the circumstances of our lives as chains that prevent us from truly living rather than wings that carry our most authentic and noble selves forward. Perhaps it stems from a fear of what will happen if we are accountable for our lives. When we can blame the prison of what our career demands, or focus on how our addictive behavior limits us, we don't have to take responsibility for our lives. My sense is that most people could be living much more satisfying lives if they weren't so afraid of what might happen.

For me, the slavery has been an unreasonable schedule. I load my calendar down with all of the things I want to do, and suddenly they become the things I have to do. And all of the incredible and creative plans I formulate transform into burdens. I beat myself up for not doing everything I want to get done in a day instead of celebrating the milestones I reach. And then I continue to hold myself to an unreasonable set of expectations, as if my ideas will somehow escape if I don't follow them through to fruition in this very moment. It doesn't feel very free.

And "independence" starts to take on a rather ugly connotation in that frame of mind. I want to think of it as:
"I have the freedom to follow any path I choose (within my capability), and I can choose the alliances I build along the way."
But it winds up feeling like:
"I have to do this all by myself. Now that I've started it I have to finish it. If I can't handle this, I'll be a failure."
So on this holiday weekend, I am keeping the calendar clear. I don't need to keep pushing forward and accomplishing more. My vision can have a realistic time frame. And I can enjoy creating it rather than being burdened by it. My intention now is to create more freedom in my life by being kinder to myself with the way I schedule my time. And I want to be more conscious about what prisons I'm choosing to live inside. Realizing that I'm both warden and prisoner. And that I don't have to be either.

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