Where is freedom?

Freedom isn’t free
You gotta pay the price
You gotta sacrifice
For your liberty.
                                         Up With People

Our hearts cry out for freedom.

We yearn to claim the right to make our decisions, carve our own path, create our own destiny.

And then we stumble and fall. We tell ourselves its best to not ‘rock the boat’. It’s best to ‘go with the flow’ and give into the ‘system’. In our desire to conform, to fit in, we let go of our will to be the change we want to be in our lives and fall into the trap of becoming who we think others will like best.

We say we’re not — giving in, conforming, silencing ourselves, constraining our dreams. We say we’re breaking the rules so we can be free. We are cutting off from the norm to do it our way, but we forget to check if our way is actually creating the ‘more’ we say we want. Too often, it’s simply creating the ‘other’ than what we dreamt would be the freedom we seek. We’re breaking rules for the sake of breaking rules versus testing the limits of our comfort zone and carving the path that fills our heart’s desire to be free and live with passion.

I don’t like breaking rules.

Some of my desire to not break rules and fit in stems back to an incident in Grade 1 when I broke the ‘no talking rule’ (a few too many times) in class and the teacher made me go and stand in the corner. But she didn’t make me stand in the corner in our classroom. She made me stand in the corner of the front lobby of our school. (I think I talked a lot when I was supposed to be quiet.)

I was shamed.

I remember standing in the corner and my brother and sister walking past, seeing me and poking fun at me. I’m sure when we got home they told my mother and that would not have been pretty.

My mother did not like us to break the rules.

Decades later the shame of that incident can still occasionally trip me up. When I feel I have something to add to a conversation, I hesitate. When I want to speak my truth, I second guess myself.

I don’t like breaking rules and the rule I made in my head long ago is that speaking up gets me in trouble. It’s best to hold my counsel unless I’m really, really sure I won’t get in trouble or be laughed at, ridiculed and mocked for what I have to say.

Except. The truth of who I am is I like to participate. I like to share my thoughts, to test them against other’s thinking to see where the cracks and the light is in my thinking. I like to be part of the conversation.

The dichotomy of not wanting to speak up for fear of looking stupid and my desire to let my voice be part of the conversation can create some awkward, unpredictable and tension-riddled times in my life.

At times, it has kept me silent in the face of discord. It has held me still in the arms of abuse.

It has trapped me into believing if I speak louder, I will be heard. If I break the rules, I will be free.

Freedom doesn’t come from breaking rules for the sake of stating I am free to do what I want. It comes when I live my life in harmony with the world around me, honouring the path of all around me, honouring our collective need to treat eachother with dignity and respect, celebrating the magnificence inherent in all our beings.

Freedom isn’t found in being the loudest voice.

It’s found in being the voice of truth spoken without fear of being judged or devalued because of our words.

It’s found in honouring the collective rules of our societal mores that protect our equality, liberty and rights.

Freedom is found when we honour one another in Love.