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. Few things holds us back like our fear. In any given instant it may be the most powerful and palpable restraint on us, but fear is not the only thing limiting us. Freedom is unconstrained choice, and fear may not be what constrains us most. Oddly enough, comfort may be more confining.
I want to be happy. I don’t want to suffer. If I’m not careful these basic human desires can imprison me in my own privilege. 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.
True freedom means seeing what I truly want, not just what is most comfortable, and making myself vulnerable to that discomfort, embracing it, shaping it and being shaped by it, and in so doing living realistically in a world of my own making.
This post is part of my Throwback Thursday series and originally appeared on 5/11/16 as part of #MayBookPrompts. The prompt was “Fifty Shades of Freedom.”