Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose

Why does anything matter and why should I care about my life? The quick and concise answer is: it doesn’t and you don’t have to. We are, of course, referring to the essence of me – my existence. There is no intrinsic, God-given creed that obligates the individual to care, about anything. These are learned phenomena that come along with the realization, at some point, that we are free to do whatever we want to do in this existence.

One of the great dilemmas we confront when we acknowledge this epiphany is that we have already obligated ourselves to certain things — to a certain lifestyle. We have by this time placed the chains and shackles on ourselves. We have “a job,” are in a serious relationship or married, have created other life, have children, etc. To view it from another perspective, these are the “givens,” (1) that make the fight for me, for my mission in life, worthwhile.

I recently spoke with a large group of young people. When I expressed the idea that we are free to discover or uncover that, potentially, raging fire that smolders inside each of us, I was met with the proverbial “stony silence.” But, alas, it is true. I am free to have the life that I want. But, of course, in one of the paradoxes of speech, “freedom isn’t free,” it comes with its own set of frustrations and failures. It is relatively straightforward to prognosticate, about liberty. But as Janis Joplin (1943-1970) tells us, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” (2)

So, will I make that leap of faith (3) when I am so ensnared? Most of us would say “No, I cannot.” The secret to all of this, I believe, is to, at the very least, realize that it is possible. The “How to do it?” must simply be individualized. One needs to commence the day, whether you are sixteen or sixty, with a vigor that exudes hope and possibilities. Do get up when you wake up; do make your bed; do brush your teeth and or shave, as in my case; do write in your notebook and make your peace with your God or Gaia, and do meditate on how lucky you are to be you? These are not just fantastical thoughts, but age-old keys that unlock the door to the self.

We often forget that the world needs us – every human being. It, however, needs the developed, thoughtful self – not the average greedy, self-centered individual. It needs more Dalai Lamas and fewer infamous members from history. The most wonderful part of the modern age is that careers abound and freedom is in front of every individual. So, do care about your development. You should! You can make a “world of difference.” Set out and find your freedom. The great poet and philosopher, Leonard Cohen (1934-2016), leaves us with one of his poems:

Bird on a Wire

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

Like a worm on a hook
Like a knight from some old-fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee
If I, if I have been unkind
I hope that you can just let it go by
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you

For like a baby, stillborn
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me
But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, “you must not ask for so much”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, “hey, why not ask for more?”
Oh, like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

A closing thought: I must always push on. A friend of mine recently asked me when it comes to teaching young people – most of whom don’t care about anything, let alone you (I was the same if I were to be so honest ) — “When will you have enough?” meaning when will your patience wear out. My riposte was “Never, I will never give up!” My response, in truth, was and is a reply to myself. I must never give up on me. As long as I can breathe, I can improve as a sentient life form. This I truly believe. My body may ultimately kill me, but it is the mind that begins the process. (Parts of this essay were first published in 2019)

To sum up: This week, we spoke about having the power and energy for self- improvement. The quest is my personal decision.

To be noted: If at first, you don’t succeed, then skydiving is not for you.

Just for fun –

For reflection:

This week on your thoughtful walk, please reflect on what freedom means to you.

Every day look for something magical and beautiful.

Don’t be a wage slave – critical thinking is great! — please listen to our Podcast

Quote: Most of us create the chains that bind us. Upon this realization, how do we throw them off?