Happy Fourth of July!
Today, in the historic sense, marks the anniversary of our independence as a nation. The day that we were given full autonomy as a country, a governing body, and a collective people. In a more figurative sense, it’s a day that we acknowledge what it means to be free… something that has become a little harder to define in modern times. While barbecuing, soaking up the sun, and watching fireworks have become staples of celebrating this holiday, I would like to take the time to reflect on freedom and what meaning we give it in our lives.
To be free means to have the power and the right to live our life the way we want to without hindrance, without restraint. It is the ability to build the life we desire, with the people we want to build it, adhering to the beliefs that we cherish. In fact, kabbalists teach that desire is the greatest gift that we can receive from the Creator. It’s an invitation to grow and transform, to live a life of fulfillment… and freedom is necessary in order to do that.
Often we think that freedom is something that is granted to us by an outside entity such as our job, our spouse, a governing body, or our community when, in actuality, we are already free. Right now.
We are the ones that grant ourselves that freedom. It is all a matter of perspective and when we can shift our consciousness to see our inherent freedom, we are able to follow the path of our desires and live a life of purpose.
Is there a desire that you have yet to fully pursue? It doesn’t need to be grand, or ambitious, sometimes it’s the smallest things that bring about the biggest change. Whatever your desire is, really think about what holds you back. Try this: get a piece of paper and write your desire at the top. Underneath write down all the reasons that you don’t feel free to follow this desire.
Let’s use the example of someone who wants to paint. The list beneath it might look like this:
There isn’t enough time.
Supplies are expensive.
I’ve never even taken a class.
Every class near me is for children.
What would I really do with it, anyway?
Each one of these reasons is a denial of your inherent freedom to follow the thing that brings you joy. You can easily carve 30 minutes out of your day to practice your art. You can start with a Crayola palette of watercolors. Maybe you don’t need a class and if you do, there are hundreds of free tutorials on YouTube (you don’t even need to leave the house!) and as for what you would do with it: it doesn’t even matter.
The point I’m making here is that when we feel called to something, making use of our freedom to follow that is a way of living in gratitude. It is how we say “Yes” to our best life, to our perfected self, and to the Creator. Because, whether our desire is to paint more, start a business, dedicate ourselves to activism, become President of the United States, or to eat a vegetarian diet, we’re becoming a better version of ourselves.
The French author and journalist Albert Camus wrote, “Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better.” I love this definition, for the reason above, but also because it speaks to the parts of all of us that exist on a soul level. Our soul holds our potential and our entire purpose for coming to this world is to reveal that potential. When we follow our desires and live our freedom, we are becoming better. As we exercise this spiritual freedom for ourselves, we not only give permission to others to do the same, but we encourage it. We evoke it.
If the entire world followed its soul’s desire, no matter how small, we’d be living in a world of beauty, connection, and joy. Today, ask yourself where you have been denying your freedom and make a new commitment to open up to it. Your life, and the rest of the world, will thank you for it.