I asked Nina Simone what it means to be free. “Words cannot do justice to the experience of freedom,” she said. She paused a moment, a hushed, contemplative silence, before saying “no fear… That’s freedom. That’s not all of it, but I think that’s the best I can do.”

What’s does it mean to you to be free? I agree with Nina. To me freedom is the feeling of unconstrained choice. Nothing holds us back like our fear, but fear is far from the only thing limiting me and it may not even be what constrains me most. For me, simple discomfort may be more confining.

I want to be happy and not to suffer. But if I’m not careful, that basic human desire can imprison me. If I don’t actively contemplate what I truly want, if I don’t mindfully investigate my motivations, relatively mild discomforts that I subconsciously avoid will lead me into a cage of comfort. Freedom to me means seeing what I truly want, not just what is most comfortable, and making myself vulnerable to that discomfort. Vulnerability sets me free.

For #MayBookPrompts day 11 “Fifty Shades of Freedom”

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