I imagine there are as many forms of freedom
as there are souls.
From the large scale assortment
of rights and pursuits and liberty,
to the kid who finally masters spokes, handlebars, and wheels,
and pedals, for the first time,
down the driveway and off into the neighborhood.
What I have witnessed of late
is the close to home variety
inside and out
of tentative, but palpable freedom.
It doesn’t come all at once
or in a grandiose fashion.
It is, for example, the first step outside sans leash
for my beautiful golden dog
after surgery and months of restraint.
She knew, somehow, to take it slow
to give the squirrel a glare instead of a chase.
She walked carefully and joyfully to blades of grass
that have been long out of reach.
And she tasted the sweetness of summer unrestrained.
It is so, too, in me.
The tender steps I take
that at times feel more like surrender
but hold the undeniable mark of freedom:
the courage to let tears fall
the silence or words that need to be shared
or stopping, finally, and appreciating all that is…and isn’t.
We all know this feeling
we crave it and run from it
at times in equal measure.
So I look once again
to the wisdom of this sweet gentle dog
who reminds me that it’s possible
to be both cautious and joyful.
To take it slow, when necessary,
and perhaps only notice
rather than hunt down,
the parts of myself that are squirrely
and unwelcome or hard to manage.
And most of all,
amidst the tentative freedom
of new or courageous steps,
to remember to taste it, smell it, hear it, feel it,
take it in whole-heartedly.
Then find a sunny patch
or a nice cool hole of freshly dug dirt
and simply lie down
and see what the world looks like from there.
The word freedom covers a lot of territory. It’s something we fight for and sometimes hide from. It’s something everyone wants and deserves, and on closer examination, it demands of us a willingness to surrender. Such an interesting concept. Are you free to vote? To love who you choose? To pursue happiness or perhaps the larger world of joy? If so, then do you have the courage to do so? What would you need to surrender in order to live this freedom? Apathy? Outcomes? Pride? Disconnection? Rigidity? Despair? Hope?
A Wild Dare?
Are there places in your life where you do not feel free? Not only in your country and culture, but on a more personal scale, at work, at home? If part of living in true freedom asks that we also surrender, what would that look like for you? What can you control and what can’t you? In my exploration of this seeming contradiction, I have found far more within my control than without. It seems to boil down to being honest with myself, to re-defining courage and strength to include, and indeed insist on, vulnerability, among other things. All this, of course, while not taking myself so dang seriously!