a few thoughts on freedom

Last night, I spent over an hour in my backyard taking pictures of the stars. I danced around in the dark with my socks soaking wet, listening to my happiest music. I spent more time looking up at the sky than at my viewfinder, with tears in my eyes at the beauty of it all. The beauty of life, of the universe, of my music, of my camera, of silence and of noise. I felt happy, I felt alive. Most importantly, however, I felt free.

Freedom is a curious thing. The majority of people would classify freedom as something, or a collection of things, that are essential to living a life that reaches and surpasses every possible limit; a life that is satisfactory and happy. But, at least in my experience, few of us ever try to sit down and define what freedom is and means to us. In fact, the search for freedom is almost always disguised as the search for something else– moving past heartbreak, letting go of the past, seeking enlightenment, creating a healthier image of oneself. All of these, in essence, could be categorized as a yearning for freedom. To be honest, it wasn’t until I wrote this paragraph that I realized my desires and goals also culminate in such a search.

Now then, why is such a simple human right so difficult to attain? Is it because there are so many restrictions in life– so much heartbreak, so much fear, so much pain? Or is such a lack caused by our limitations of own ourselves? Perhaps we are sometimes unable to move on because we fear what lies beyond such a comfortable, albeit draining, state of mind.

This elusive freedom is what I’ve been working towards this past year, and it is what I feel like I’ve begun to achieve in many ways:

  1. I no longer feel chained down to my mind, dragging my feet through the heaviness of my own academic and personal thoughts and anxieties.
  2. The bruises left by the ever-tightening grips of other people have mostly healed, and their hands can no longer even come close to me. Sometimes I think that their fingers clamping down on my heart were worse than chains.
  3. I have begun to stop looking for validation outside myself, although I still struggle with this.
  4. I no longer spend (as much) time craving the company of people who once meant everything to me. I’ve begun to accept that no matter how concise or unfinished my time with someone feels, the endings of certain things are no more in my control than their beginnings. Besides, sometimes happy moments and feelings are more beautiful when they are neatly packaged, always there for me to look back on.

All of this being said, I feel truly blessed to already have so much freedom in my life; freedom to speak, love, vote, learn, exist, live how I want to– I am aware that these are rare and glorious luxuries. In many other ways, I am still searching, but that is what keeps life interesting.

With love,

Shireen Z.


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