Are you a lucky person? I certainly am. I don’t mean that in the “lottery” sense either – although that would be nice!
I am talking about being free.
No.1 son and I are lucky to live in a place where we are free to voice our opinions on politics, religion, race, sexual persuasions, creativity, family values – anything really, without actually offending someone personally. We are, within our financial limitations, able to live anywhere we choose, buy what we need and want, and travel anywhere we want – for holidays, family or employment reasons, or just to discover somewhere new. We have access to education, employment, medical care, business opportunities, creative pursuits and recreation.
Sadly, many people in this world are not free. So many are imprisoned (rightly or wrongly), or live in war zones or countries where the freedoms mentioned above do not exist. Historically (and currently) people have been persecuted (or worse) for being the wrong colour, worshiping the wrong god, writing the wrong words, composing or listening to the wrong music, being out after dark, being a young girl going to school, being a woman who dares to show her face in public, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Those people are not free to live the way they want – or the way we are lucky enough to live. They are victims of hatred and intolerance – and sadly live in a society where life is cheap.
Despair will lead most people to believe they cannot make a difference. However there are many (some well-known, and others not so) who find something deep within themselves to help and inspire others and change lives forever. The form these changes take is many and varied. It can be medical aid (look what Weary Dunlop did for the POWs in Singapore in WWII), or political and personal inspiration (no greater example than the mental perseverance of Nelson Mandela) – or it can be simply holding someone’s hand and smiling, making a difference to that person for just a short moment.
Daily, I am thankful for what I have and for the community I am part of, and hopefully contribute to. I often worry that we take our lives for granted – not just our way of life, but our own personal contribution to our community, our family – and to ourselves.
Choices are the essence of freedom.
On a personal level we can choose the path we take in life. Sometimes situations beyond our control can cause us to deviate from that path (natural disasters, accidents, illness) but with help and support from others, and our own inner strength, we can usually return to that path pretty quickly.
Bad choices and unrecognised habits, however, can cause landslides that block our path and leave the “other path” wide open.
Extreme examples of ‘bad choices’ could include not completing your schooling, running away from home and family, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, theft, joining a gang – you get the picture. The unrecognised habits could be taking welfare payments for granted (‘cos you can‘ or ‘it’s your right’), not exercising, not getting up till midday, hanging out with the wrong people, or simply not taking an interest in the world around you.
In my case I have made some bad choices – I think we all have. But they are not earth-shattering, and have not impinged on others directly. I don’t drink much, have never smoked or taken drugs, I’ve had one speeding ticket in my life (so far) and I have never stolen anything (maybe a grape in the supermarket – taste before you buy!).
However I chose (albeit subconsciously) to not study hard enough at school, barely gaining the minimum marks needed to continue on to University (I can admit this now that No.1 son has developed his own dedicated study routine through school and beyond!). Because my study habits were left wanting, I failed to gain entry to my first preference for studying Librarianship. After six months attempting Business Studies in Melbourne I chose NOT to complete a University education – finding ‘exciting’ jobs in retail instead. Maybe short-sighted or maybe misguided – certainly not a good long-term choice.
Consequently my bad choices aided the development of unrecognised habits (unclear to me until I started writing this today). Not finishing tasks, procrastination, finding it easier not to exercise, hanging onto possessions that I may need one day, and trying to justify (to myself) the reasons for doing all of the above. Each of those habits bugs me, frustrates me and stresses me out – they are inhibiting my mental freedom.
So take a stand!
OK – I WILL. With you as my witnesses (and hopefully supporters) I am going to banish those habits. It’s not going to happen overnight – I will attempt to unravel each one in turn. After all, it took me a long time to fully develop those habits into seriously effective inhibitors!
First task is to de-clutter. By rationalizing my possessions I hope to free my brain of clutter as well! The daily decisions I make to deal with my “objects” is daunting – cleaning, tidying, sorting, storing, adding to, do I really need it? Do you go through the same process? Come on now be honest….
I suggest you watch this space as I get on with the unravelling – I will keep you informed of my progress, and the consequences that ensue. I know they are going to be good ones!
What can you do to help? Let me know if you have a similar story, about gaining personal relief, by taking a stand against a bad choice or an unrecognised habit. (Please note I am not after stories about bad choices in partners, employers, or illicit substances – let’s start with day to day tasks and how you made your life easier and clearer.) I’m on for new ideas and there are some really exciting ideas out there to be shared…don’t keep them to yourself please.
Here’s to freedom!