Would you really swap security for freedom?
How much do you enjoy your freedom?
Or… do you even feel free at all?
This week I had the strange experience of being a traditional Mexican sweat lodge called a “temazcal”. I surrendered myself to going into a tiny earth mound filled with burning hot rocks and about 18 other people sweating profusely. I was crammed at the back, with no hope of easily getting out should I freak… and it was pitch black… I couldn’t even see the hand in front of my face!
It was a surrender to being completely confined. And after my initial 2 minute panic at my loss of control… I found myself loving my new cosy, hot, sweaty room filled with the songs traditional Mexican culture.
I was of course only loving it because I was confident that after an hour or two I’d be set free again 😉
I think most people try to seek a balance between confinement verses open insecure freedom.
More to the point, I think most people seek out a form of confinement that they feel they have chosen. They seek out a confinement that restricts them, comes with all sorts of pressures, and obligations, but one that they feel they control… because they chose it.
This would include a mortgage, a lease, a job contract, a credit card… and many other forms of “confinement”. And many of these spill into one other. One leads to the next. Confinements have a habit of expanding and replicating themselves… quietly and innocently at first.
Often it doesn’t take too long before you find yourself in a situation where you have so many obligations and constrictions, that what once looked like a choice, and something that you were in charge of, and could easily change, has in fact got you!
When I realised how suffocated I was by all the contracts, bills, loans, staff, obligations, leases, mortgages, etc… that I had spent decades creating for myself, I was dumbfounded by how tangled up I’d got myself! How did this happen?! It seemed like the more I tried to create a platform of freedom using the traditional route, the more obligations I’d taken on with the hope that they would lead to freedom, the more trapped I had became by them.
There must have been a time when I was comforted by the prison cell I had built for myself. There must have been comfort in that confinement.
It was only when this comfort turned to oppression that I finally hit the wall… the wall I’d built around myself!
One day I just hit a switch, reached a boiling point, where I could no longer tolerate any of it any more. And it was then that I realised that this plan of taking on more obligations, more structures with the hope that they free up my life, was in fact a flawed plan.
I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore
I finally saw that none of these “take years of my life” contracts I was signing were helping to create the freed and stress-free life I was seeking.
So instead I formed a plan to literally collapse all those structures.
My original plan of a making sure everything would be neat, where I could quietly wrap everything up and go live my international lifestyle… was delusional. (It was going to have to get a bit messy first).
And while that took several years (4 years of planning an action to be precise!) I found it worked. And I enjoy the freedom I have today because of the unorthodox approach I took.
It wasn’t careless. It was careful, considered… but unconventional when compared to living in a society that pays homage to building a stronghold of obligations where you are taught to feel secure to the extent to how much you are tied down.
I heard an interesting story this week about a famous Japanese artist who tours the world, has exhibits in all the major international galleries from NYC to Europe… but who is locked up in a mental asylum. She is trapped, famous and hugely respected, but considered mad and is only allowed out on international tours.
Does she ever seek to escape? Yes. And she does actually escape sometimes while on tour. And yet she always returns back to the comfort of her asylum.
Is that what most people do when they experience too much freedom?
Do we quickly look for the old comfortable bonds again that will hold us down?
I think there’s a better way to live. Right now we live in a time where there is incredible opportunity and possibility to claim our freedom and seek out the pathways that lead in that direction. But they are nearly all unconventional.
What would happen if you switched your mind away from looking for security to looking for freedom?
And what would happen if you surrendered to that process and allowed it take you on adventures?
I surrendered to the confinement of the temazcal sweat lodge this week, because I knew I would be set free, and I knew it would test me. It also reminded me a little of what it was once like to be trapped, and how grateful I am now for the freedom I have to enjoy such unusual experiences.
What could you surrender to this week?
What steps can you take to break down some of your walls?