I hosted the most recent Pause For Power networking luncheon last week on June 19th, a day also known as “Juneteenth”. It was on the 19th of June in 1865 that the last of the African American slaves received news of their emancipation. Although the declaration of emancipation happened in 1863, it took almost 2 and a half years for the slaves in Texas to receive the news. If only Twitter or Facebook existed back then!
Rightly called freedom day in Texas, the coincident Pause for Power event on Juneteenth inspired me to lead my audience into an inquiry of the state of our own personal freedom in our lives today. What does freedom mean to us? Is freedom just another word?
History books the world over tell stories about the fight for freedom, and many of these struggles are still ongoing. The fight for freedom from oppression and segregation; the fight for independence from colonization; the fight for women’s liberation including the right to an education, the right to vote, the right to choose, and the right for equal pay; the fight for freedom from childhood sexual abuse and trafficking, violence, labor; the fight for religious freedom; and this year the month of June was declared Pride month by President Obama to honor and celebrate gay pride and the freedom to love whomever we choose. And apart from the innumerable battles that have been fought for social justice, our meditation at the Pause For Power luncheon last week centered on our personal freedom, our freedom from the past, our freedom today, in the present moment to be fully self-expressed, to be here and now, be fully and simply present.
While I love Janis Joplin and her song “Me & Bobby McGee”, the line in that song, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose” reminds me of the price we pay when freedom is lost and that there is a cost to the absence of personal freedom. There is a lot to lose. I think about how technology, without which life would be very different and shockingly inconvenient, can also be such a distraction that takes our attention away from our family, children and even our significant other, if we allow it. While I am all for the advances in technology, without attention, intention, and limits, we enslave ourselves to an altogether new and insidious kind of ruler. We subjugate ourselves, of our own accord, to devices and apps and distractions that steal us away from pure presence.
Questioning freedom in our personal lives eventually led me to think about freedom from past hurts and anger from our relationships. The interview and conversation I had with Dr. Jim Goldstein was a discussion of how to transform any relationship into a powerful one. Dr. Goldstein described the distinction of how kids don’t hold on to the past, they express their upset state in a matter of minutes and bounce back to the possibility of limitless fun. Adults on the other hand have this thing called a memory which has the power to trap us in the past and influence our response to the present. Our previous experiences may hold us back and keep us from being here and now, fully self-expressed in the love, aliveness, and possibilities of our relationships, even in our relationship to ourselves.
While there are still many battles, even wars being fought today for social, economic, and political freedoms globally, many of which may pull at our hearts, our immediate sphere of influence is in our ability to affect the personal freedoms that can be created consciously when we focus our attention intentionally. Whether we seek emotional, intellectual, creative, sexual or spiritual freedom, it is a question of what matters to us.
As I write this blog today I am in Colonial Williamsburg where I helped my husband select a necklace for me engraved with a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet — “to thine own self be true”. When I think of freedom in my own life I think of being true to myself, fully self-expressed in every area of my life. I wish to be un-held back, unstoppable, unrealistic and unreasonable in moving my life one step at a time in the direction of my dream. For me total freedom is being un-messable, living my life to my fullest potential.
When you think of freedom, what thoughts come to your mind? Where do you see yourself today when you think of your own freedoms on the physical, mental, intellectual, emotional, financial, spiritual and even sexual level? Are you free from your past and all of the stories, movies, replays and flashbacks? How does aligning with total freedom feel for you? If you are aligned on all levels, how does it feel? If you are not, how does that feel? What do you see yourself doing to achieve the freedom you desire?
Please share your thoughts, questions and comments with me. What did you think of this inquiry in today’s blog, “is freedom just another word?”?
Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you, lay your body down
— Crosby Stills Nash