Kristofferson famously sang that freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
But everyone defines freedom in their own way. As they should. That’s the whole point of being free in the first place.
And so, here’s my definition.
Freedom is the ability to breathe. It’s that blissful state of psychological sovereignty in which the acute pressures and suffocating burdens and ambient anxieties and piercing distractions and looming deadlines and unresolved issues and open loops and claustrophobic feelings aren’t constricting your life force into a distracted haze, and you can finally just be here now and touch real joy.
You can breathe. You can revel in the gentle restfulness and slow lightness of being.
I only know this because I’ve experienced the opposite. Quite literally. When I was twenty six, I suffered a collapsed lung. A spontaneous pneumothorax. I got up one morning, couldn’t breathe, went to the emergency room, woke up a few hours later with a tube in my chest, and then spent a week in the hospital connected to a respirator that did my breathing for me. It was the polar opposite of freedom.
Of course, it wasn’t a remarkable incident. My suffering wasn’t special. People’s lungs collapse every day. Often times sporadically. And in most cases, treatment is fairly simple. Oxygen and rest.
However, that experience fundamentally changed me forever. In many ways. One of which was a deeper understand and appreciation one of the most basic freedoms we have as human beings.
Breathing. Inhaling. Exhaling.
After all, everybody’s first word was air. And so, that became my goal. Gentle restfulness. Slow lightness of being. Freedom through the ability to breathe. The blissful state of physiological and psychological sovereignty.
Oxygen. It’s a beautiful thing.
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That Guy with the Nametag
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