Freedom is the stuff of wars. What irony! People will give up almost anything for it. Freedom promises both peace and joy at minimum and, to the mind of some, also power or prosperity. It’s more often yelled than it is whispered because it is an inalienable basic right. I think we feel it in our genes that we should not be chained.
On this fourth of July where independence is celebrated in the USA, I’m looking at the red, white and blue decorations, and I’m thinking about narrow and wide meanings of freedom. Is independence enough? The autonomy of decisions, the wide range of options – from what clothes to wear and what car to drive to whom to marry and what education to pursue? Perhaps it is much more than just our human say-so.
And if it is more, what is it to people who have different motives and different sensibilities? Would the people that I call Boxwood trees define it differently from how a Rose Bush would?
I’m pretty sure they would. With all the Rose Bush DNA in me I want freedom to mean my rights, my positions even, my opinions, definitely. Yes, my free speech.
But with the Boxwood within me, I almost cringe at the Rose Bush freedom pose. Do I see amendments piling up over there on Rose Bush Hill? As a Boxwood, I can’t say “freedom” without saying “responsibility” and I will never scream freedom on a battle field the way William Wallace reportedly did (Hollywood version here for the uninitiated https://youtu.be/TME0xubdHQc). I am more likely to ask nicely for it, promise to urn it, live my life hoping I deserve it and then perhaps never use it to the full glory that it is!
Are any of your Boxwoods like me? I see freedom with the same boundaries that I see anything else. And quite frankly, the idea of absolute and utter freedom does not sit comfortably with my Boxwood value system. It seems too wild. I immediately see such boundless freedom infringing on yours, my choices limiting your options, my voice drowning out your equally valuable words, my possessions biting into the pie, perhaps taking a bigger slice than I deserve. And so, if I would stretch my freedom just an inch too far, I know that the guilt and the sense of unfairness will follow closely behind my exercise of liberty.
I don’t have any discernible Pine Tree in my unique temperament mix, so, please correct me as I speak for you on the topic of freedom, Pine Trees, or thank me for speaking for you so you don’t have to, whichever you choose, as even this is obviously part of your particular freedom. Instead of freedom of speech, you probably love the freedom fo the 5th amendment – the right to say absolutely nothing! Would you like more freedom on top of that, such as the freedom not to fight, not to defend, not to put your opinion on the line like a body on a dissection table. I think you would love more of that freedom, if you’re Pine Tree to the core.
I recently infringed on a Pine Trees’ freedom by stepping into the holy space between him and his bonfire, the night sky and the silence of the backyard woods, asking many probing questions and dropping emotional thought-provoking opinions (he called bombs). It was every bit a war. I excited bleeding. So no, I do not think this desire for the “freedom to not” as opposed to the Rose Bush “freedom to” is any less passionate just for seeming less ambitious!
You’re likely the owner of many Pine Tree genes if you would like less pressure to exercise freedom, less pressure to make both bold choices and fewer expectations to yell this word through voice or action? Maybe I still underestimate how much you want freedom just because I mostly see your desire for the freedom not to cross the line, while my charge for freedom would rather be to cross a boundary or scale a wall, lift a ceiling, or start a new thing.
And what about the palm trees and freedom? That may be the most natural match between personality and the full joy of having the sky as your limit, instead of a ceiling, a budget, or a schedule. Aren’t all of these just infringements upon you palm tree freedom? And isn’t it true that one of your greatest joys
is seeing others break into that big blue sky of “what do you want and what would you like to do?” You know what freedom feels like, smells like, sounds like and tastes like, don’t you? Sometimes it’s just the small thing – just the freedom to dance even when you don’t know the steps, or the freedom to sing, even if you can’t hold a tune in a bucket, or the freedom to say I love you first, even when you don’t know if it will be reciprocated. It’s the bravery of the free or the freedom of the brave that sits deep in your palm tree wood fibers. Do you also get goosebumps when you see someone’s hunger for freedom overshadow a fear of failure? And do you also grab any flag you can find and fly it high for them when you’re a witness to this miracle.
I do too.
That is probably why among my greatest joys is the joy of witnessing a person stepping into the freedom of being themselves, humbly, yet unapologetically; bravely yet filled with gratitude for all they already find there in their own skin.
Have you found that freedom yet?