Surprise Saturday: What Is Freedom?

A friend of mine is a psychologist. He’s also a writer. He recently said to me:

“Freedom is the opposite of overwhelm.”

I like that. In our modern, individualistic society, most of us see freedom as the highest good. But we don’t have a good definition for it, do we? Most of us think freedom is money. Some of us may think it is power.

But those are both insufficient kinds of freedom at best and poor ones to begin with at worst. What is freedom? Have you ever really thought about it?

There’s a famous German folk song called Thoughts Are Free. As long as you can think what you want, aren’t you free? That’s a very comforting definition of freedom. But there are many others.

I think choosing your responsibilities rather than just shedding them all is freedom. I think freedom from certain desires is better than freedom to indulge in them. In our work, autonomy is freedom. As long as we get to handle our tasks our way, what does it matter if we have a boss?

Choosing your meals is freedom. Being kind is freedom. Replaying a song in your head is freedom.

Freedom isn’t a time or a place. It’s not tied to status or relationships or money. Freedom comes from the heart. It’s an attitude, a decision, a state of mind. Freedom means many things, even though it sometimes means nothing at all.

What is freedom? I don’t know. You’ll have to come up with your own answers, again and again. What I do know is this: True freedom is the thing no one can take away from you.

It was yours from the beginning - and it always will be.


About Surprise Saturday: In the long run, the only good pattern is breaking our patterns. That’s why, every once in a while, we need a shock to the system. An unexpected idea. A creative surprise. That’s what we’ll unwrap every Saturday.

Picasso said he didn’t seek. He just found. Let’s keep exploring.

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