I’m still a rebel.
To all the people outside, to this whole f*cking society:
You can take whatever you want from me, my body, my speech, my loved ones, but what you can’t take away are my thoughts. My thoughts belong to myself, therefore, I am free!
At 16 years old, I was a rebel in some ways. It brought me a few difficult situations, as you can imagine.
I was hooked on the topic of freedom. I wanted to have a tattoo that said “freedom” on my forearm. Freedom was everything to me. This yearning for freedom has followed me until today.
My own freedom and the freedom of others are one of my highest values and one of my principles in my life. That hasn’t changed.
But over the last few years the term freedom, the approach to freedom and the overall understanding of freedom has changed.
I thought, “Is this what freedom is really about? Being so-called liberated as much as possible from what is happening around me? Becoming more and more independent from the outer world? Does this really mean being free?”
Today, for me, the answer is clearly no.
We tend to think about freedom as being able to say and do what we want. We think of freedom as depending on external circumstances. If we can’t do what we want, we think, this is largely due to society’s constraints. We might think that we are free to do what we want once we have enough money, the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect husband or wife, etcetera.
This perspective is not a wrong one. No doubt, our freedom relates to external circumstances: to money, society, all kinds of systems, biology and so on and so on… but only up to a certain point.
We misunderstand it if we believe that it is primarily the outer world’s rules that govern our lives. What really keeps us imprisoned is ourselves.
We may not struggle with our surroundings, which is of course a plus and definitely what makes life, at least on the surface, easier. But most of the time, we are totally dependent what is happening inside of us.
The tricky thing here is how hard it is to be aware of this dependency, as it is something personal, hidden and most of the time it’s unconscious.
It’s a self made prison, and it’s difficult to escape from.
So, what is this prison made of?
Most of all, we are dependent on our emotions. As one single emotion leads to the next and the next and the next, we are reacting out in autopilot.
This has roots in our habitual patterns. Our experiences from the past shadow our actual experience in the present. It is a carpet out of our mind patterns, from which point we perceive everything else.
Secondly, besides emotions, it is our thoughts and overall our mind which leads us to say things, decide, act and behave in a certain way. These all together form our perception which influences and shapes our lives.
Our thoughts are the source, the cellar upon which the house is built. If we follow our thoughts without awareness, put brick after brick on this cellar, we put ourselves in our own self-made prison.
A friend of mine once said, “Our mind is a tempting place to go.” And herein lies the freedom I am writing about today.
When we are able to become more and more aware of the mind and our thoughts we can experience real freedom and break down the prison walls.
That’s what real freedom means to me today.
I’m still a rebel, but now with a new understanding.
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Assistant Ed: Moira Madden / Ed: Catherine Monkman