Get into freedom

Stump On CapersWe talk a lot about freedom in this country.  We think of freedom in terms of getting away from something that binds us. But freedom isn’t getting out of something, like prison or “work.” We often confuse escape with freedom. Real Freedom gets us into something. We are being asked to stay home during the Covid19 outbreak. Our initial response is to feel imprisoned. Our liberty is being curtailed. Our movements restricted. All for a necessary cause. We are stuck in our homes with only our immediate loved ones for company. To many, this is the definition of misery. As a professional creative, most of my time is spent inside the frontier of the mind. I’m used to working at home, dealing with people remotely, through my work. I’ve been essentially quarantining for the last forty years.

So perhaps we can take this opportunity to develop our inner freedom.That is something no prison or quarantine can take from us. What is inner freedom? The freedom to explore relationships that have been neglected. The freedom to explore our inner longings, to explore and develop ideas we didn’t have time to think about. To discover things we didn’t know we knew. To research our curiosities. Remember, Google has answers to questions we may not ordinarily have taken the time to ask. But there is also the google of our own mind. Siri can answer endless questions about the outer world but asking yourself questions about your inner landscape is also an option.

But how do we light the fires of our imagination?  What can we do to go inward? First, turn off the TV. Give yourself time to be bored. And when you’re bored enough, the mind has a way of finding ways to keep itself occupied. Find some solitude. Meditate. Nothing fancy. No formal instruction required. Just be still. Follow your thoughts. See where they lead you. Write down your thoughts, no matter how crazy. Take note of your dreams, where true freedom reins supreme. Listen to these thoughts. Write them down. There is a certain “insanity” that will ensue. Go with it; it won’t bite. I have a running dialogue with myself in my Notes app on my phone. I have notes for ideas, jokes, movies, therapy. all of which no one sees, unless I choose. I write down everything.

A good friend once told me, “enjoy your solitude. It won’t last.”

Night Heron at St Michael's ChurchSo, don’t pine for an escape from your surroundings, your world view, your habitual ways of being. Take this opportunity to embrace them. Once we take away the diversion of physical escape, what we have left is the frontier of our own mind. Remember, you can’t think outside the box without a box. The box itself can be the starting point. Look at the box in a new light. Empower the things we take for granted with new meaning. Draw them. Write a poem about your pillow, the pair of shoes that no longer get to go outside. I’m composing music now and having a grand old time doing whatever I want. One key point: don’t judge the product of these explorations. This is not the time to be your own worst critic. Keep your ideas, drawings, writing private, unless you choose to share them in some way. I have written enough to fill a dozen books. Perhaps I will publish more. But most likely, many of my best meanderings will die with me some day. I have published three books. Isn’t that enough? Maybe its time to publish your book? Carpe diem!

The familiar is a frontier for action, impelling us forward, if we let it. Structure is boundless. Freedom from longing for anything other than what is right in front of you is the kind of freedom we need. This is your chance to go deeper into yourself. Ask the big questions. I’ve discussed the power of structure in earlier blogs. True freedom is a willingness to drill down to the core, where we are not just free, but free indeed.