What is freedom? Isn’t it an experience that expresses itself through unlimited opportunity? I don’t know anyone who doesn’t desire freedom. Do you remember from childhood ever putting insects in a glass jar and puncturing the lid to contain them? The insects were intent on getting out. We are no different.
I recently talked with a young man who quit his job because he found it too confining. He discovered he was not suited for an 8:00-to-5:00 office job where he had to spend the totality of his day inside. Seriously, that took an inordinate amount of courage on his part. He didn’t mention student loans or the cost associated to getting his MBA, but those things paled in contrast to the thought of spending the next forever in a small office with three other men who may have been equally dissatisfied with he prison-like-sentence associated to their work.
I was sharing his story with another friend who retired from the U.S. Army at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Consequently, he had paid the price of admission and knew want he wanted. Earning his MBA on the heels of a prestigious military career, he had set his sights on something completely different.
In discussing his post career plans for the next chapter of his life with his college professor in the Business School at the University he attended, he talked about doing something completely different going forward. The college professor seemed a little taken back. Wasn’t coloring outside the lines a little risky? My friend was resolute in his determination to be free from the shackles of preconceived expectation by giving himself permission to follow his dreams and forge his own way ahead with a sense of freedom.
Apparently, my friend’s courage and boldness made an impact on his college professor. At graduation, the professor announced to the graduation class that a conversation with one of his students had impacted his life. As a result, he was resigning his position at the University and moving to the Netherlands, his country of origin, in order to follow his dreams and do life differently.
In a perfect world, how many of us would opt to do life differently if only we had the freedom to do so? Actually, we probably have the freedom, but we don’t have the courage. Sometimes starting over doesn’t afford the luxury of a lateral switch to another career track with the same monetary advantages. Starting over may establish a new baseline where it is three-gigantic-steps backward before you can begin to make progress. Consequently, we voluntarily agree to be held hostage and live our lives as though we have no other options. We voluntarily forfeit the freedom to do it differently because we’ve already pitched our tent in a different direction. I guess you could so we are co-conspirators in our own captivity.
We long to be free. In his album “Jailhouse Rock”, Elvis sang a song entitled “I Want To Be Free”. The lyrics are fairly simple, but descriptive of many. “There’s no joy in my heart Only sorrow And I’m sad As a man can be I sit alone in the darkness Of my lonely room And this room is a prison to me I look at window And what do I see I see a bird Way up in the tree I want to be free free Free – ee – ee – ee I want to be free Like the bird in the tree…”
Perhaps the anniversary of our Nation’s independence should serve as a catalyst for us to rethink quality of life issues. After all, the only place we have is here and the only time we have is now. Why not embrace freedom to pursue our dreams and set ourselves free from the shackles that bind us?
It is food for thought. It wasn’t easy for the 56 men of the 2nd Continental Congress who signed the Declaration of Independence to do so, but failure to do so wasn’t an option with which they could live. If you long for freedom, give yourself permission to choose it. It may come with a price, but the price for not pursing it is greater than the price for forfeiting it.
The sound of Andy Williams singing born free is now running around in my head. Do you remember the lyrics?
“Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart
Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star
Stay free where no walls divide you
You’re free as the roaring tide
So there’s no need to hide
Born free and life is worth living
But only worth living
‘Cause you’re born free
All My Best!