“If you got something to say, say it right away.
If you got something to do, do what's right for you.
If you got somebody to love, give that love today.
Know you got nothing to lose, there's no time to waste.”
We have a terribly misguided concept that freedom means the lack of any constrictions, but there’s no evidence in physical reality that backs up this assertion. The freedoms we hold most dear are instantiated in our constitutions. Even the word “constitution” points at what it takes to protect freedom. To “constitute” implies substance, not the thin air of how we usually imagine freedom to taste.
What’s the enemy of freedom? Constriction. Construction and constriction differ by only one letter, yet they occupy such an opposite energetic. Construction descends from the Latin con- which means together and -struere, to pile or build. Constriction comes from the Latin “constringere” which means to press or bind tightly together. The latter has taken on a connotation of limitation, asphyxiation, or narrowing of options.
When we think of freedom we usually imagine what we’re in the absence of. We’ve lost track what we want to move towards – the freedom to be precisely what we are. True freedom feels like alignment. My first and best yoga teacher, Nicole Brown, hinted at this when she suggested we find our most perfect posture by imagining our spine was a stack of bricks with no mortar to hold them. You can tell when you’re aligned when you feel you body relax as it finds the most effortless balance point.
Why does “integrity” feel like something you sure do want other people to have, but it’s a bit more of a constriction than we’d like to admit sometimes. Integrity need not be like taking your vitamins, though. Think of integrity in the same sense as structural integrity. You want your house to stand, not out of a moral obligation to hold up the roof, but because it simply is doing what houses do.
Stones expend no effort to stay in alignment. If a building can find any way to remain standing, it will. The stones of the Parthenon have stayed in integrity for nearly twenty centuries. That’s right, it was built in 125 AD. I’m not missing a digit, that’s two thousand years of integrity and you’ve never seen those stones sweat it. In fact, it would take a big input of energy such as a massive earthquake to topple it. They stand because they are in their place, doing what stones do. They are pressed together in exquisite service of beauty.
Now if you know much about humans you’ll have noticed that they can’t sit utterly still for even a few seconds. Unlike the bones of the Parthenon, living beings find balance in movement. Yet the advice remains the same — if there’s any way for you to remain standing, you will.
For all this talk of constitutions and dusty old stones you’d think freedom was all heaviness, and in a way I want to say — it is. It’s the strength that makes our load light. You don’t have to put down all your commitment to be free. You need only step into the beauty of those bonds. They were yours to make and unmake. That’s real freedom. I don’t want the freedom of a spoiled child that eats mango mochi all day and refuses to wash her bowl, I want the freedom of a full-grown me who aligns her life to highest integrity of who I am.
If you’re wanting and dreaming of freedom from other people’s requests or opinions of you, you’re going to be waiting a long time. That day is in no hurry to get here. Good news though, as you grant yourself authority to respond to these requests according to your highest alignment, you will find yourself pressed tightly against other stones that more effortlessly support you.
You will continue to disappoint other people on some level though, I’m disappointed to say. Get as comfortable as you can with this. No matter how hard you try, the ones you love the most will feel it the most by sheer fact of being the most pressed together with you. That’s totally ok and to be expected. The work is coming to the balance point where both expend the least energy to stay in alignment with yourself and them. Freedom isn’t the lack of bonds, it’s the integrity and alignment of them.
Freedom looks like the burden you love to carry and feels like the strength of the wing beats to bear it up to the skies.
Read more about the shadow > PREDICTABLE
“Explain the ball around my heart.
It's not chain since we first made our our start.
These chains you bound around my heart complete me, baby.
I would not be free.”
– Hot Chip