Most of us are working out some kind of relationship with freedom. It is one of the most fundamental and significant human needs.
I’m not talking about the freedom that is “…and then I won the lottery….” There are ample and age-old stories of people with wealth, and little apparent material need, that are utterly miserable. I am talking about a freedom, or perhaps alignment, that is one’s deep purpose in association with one’s actions.
There is freedom that must grow from an inner world, so as to be found in the outer world.
Let’s pull all of that down a bit.
This morning I sit on my balcony. The temperature is easy to be with, 74 F. I’ve recorded the snippet of dream that I recall from last night, because I’m committed to welcoming the consciousness that is dream space. I’ve sat quietly for 15 minutes to do my best to not think of anything. To just be. This meditation ain’t perfect, this “just being.” For me, a part of my brain continues to leap forward and backward. The forward part is to the things that are on my todo list today. Each of them matter. People are counting on me. I want to get each of these things done. I’ll feel it as accomplishment. The backward part is to things that happened on the weekend and last week. A conversation I had with my neighbor. The struggle and delight I had with my son. The video conference meeting I had with some colleagues. There is plenty of obligatory thought. I don’t really try to think it. It’s just there, simultaneous with the emptiness.
My balcony moment, which now includes finding words for this blog, points me in a direction of some emptiness. It’s not fully empty. It’s just something in that direction. And it’s delightful, even for the moment, because of really checking the “why” of what I’m doing. My list, like it is for most people, isn’t radically changing. There’s still dishes to wash, weeds to pull, a kid that is rather addicted to his gaming. There’s the meetings that will fulfill and challenge. When it all changes, it seems, I find, is when my inner orientation is in integrity.
Integrity with what?
For me, yes, I seek an inner freedom. For example, I find that I must encounter my world with some disposition of seeking inherent mystery. In the story I tell myself, there is always more unseen than seen; there is always more mystery than certainty. That means that asking questions together, wondering together, is imperative. That’s me. That’s not the way it must be for everyone. Definitely not that way with the 14 year-old version of my son. “Dad, why do you ask so many questions — it’s not that deep.” He will learn, I hope, to wonder past those super jacked-up teenage angsts that block the wonder. And, let’s be clear, for some, the inner promise isn’t mystery — it could be to create more certainty.
I think the point that I’m getting to, trying to find in myself, is that there are some rather simple orientations, that when adhered to — oy, when welcomed without hesitation — create a certain fulfillment in the inner world that changes what fulfillment looks like in the outer world. Yes, the dishes still need to be done, but it’s somehow less monumental, less tasky, and more simple, and satisfying.
The external world will always be in play in relation to internal. There is slavery that remains today. There is addition. And trauma. And numbing everywhere. Yet, people, poets, sages, mystics have been promoting love affairs with the internal for ages. That, and, well, a communality with such daring awareness.
This is big stuff I realize. It’s not as though “self-actualization” can even know how to rest on a todo list. But I’m glad for a balcony moment this morning, to get just a bit further into one of my most common versions of mystery. In search of freedom. That lasts.