“Enslave the liberties of but one human being and the liberties of the world are put in peril.” ~~William Lloyd Garrison
What does freedom look like? It looks like me in a tiny, triangular park on this very very hot day in Boston. I was so engrossed in my writing that I was almost oblivious to the heat until a little girl came along and pushed some buttons, revealing that this sculpture is a timed fountain with three different controls: one for mist, one for spray, and one for big streams of water!!! Freedom! I was free to do more clarifying and creating that day than I’d done in months.
The quote on the fountain is especially poignant for me today, as I am reading “The Book of Forgiveness” by Desmond TuTu and his daughter, inspired by the systematic process South Africa used–very much like the one we use to forgive those who hurt us–that allows a whole nation to forgive the atrocities of Apartheid. The quote on the fountain likely refers to the ways society and individuals have cruelly robbed the liberties of others, yet we can suffer internally and put our whole world in peril via our own self-enslaving stories.
Living with Freedom & Spontaneity
When I discovered the fountain four years ago, I was staying on the fourth floor of the building behind me in the picture, in a tiny room painted bright white. I had rented out my own house out for two months, and three days after arriving home from two weeks supporting a friend in Indiana, I left again to give my daughter a last-minute ride to Boston to see her college roommate; and that made it possible to visit my dear friend from Ohio at their family lakefront home in Maine!
When I explained to my friend how all of this came together at the last moment, and that I was still flexible about which nights to stay with them, she exclaimed,
“It would be kind of amazing to live with such freedom and spontaneity.”
Would that way of living be irresponsible?
In my case, I’m solely responsible for managing seven rentals, having clients, employees, websites, courses, retreats, and being committed to creating time-sensitive, innovative content, along with taking financial, health, and business risks. This is more responsibility than I’ve had at any other time in my life—and more than most people I know.
So freedom looks like investing myself, my time, and my energy, into whatever feels like the next thing to feed my soul, heal a hurt, or live a vision. It means free-falling into life and turning over the outcomes of each of my most well-meaning actions, then noticing that I’m doing the next thing I’m lead to do, and realizing that I’m not in charge.
Most of all, it means freeing myself from the anxiety, anger, and feelings of alienation and separation, of lack, guilt, regret, dread, need, anger, victimization, entangled dependency, pressure, and indecision, that plagued most of my adult life. This resulted in much emotional and physical pain, illness, and turmoil.
Each Moment Feels Like Freedom
After driving that 11 hours to Boston, checking in and resting, answering emails, and creating curricula for my groups, then walking miles in an unfamiliar city at 10 p.m. to see the most fantastic, booming fireworks ever on Boston Harbor, I woke up and had the most productive day alone in this tiny room and by this tiny fountain.
My mind kept telling me that the No-Matter-What model for my book wasn’t yet fully fleshed out; the day flew by from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. (with communications with my amazing team, texting with a team member about completely re-conceptualizing our Light Landing Day picnic, and calling a friend who was a sounding board for the place where I got stuck in my model-building). So much was going on, but almost no stress; each moment felt like freedom to listen to life and happily let it take me where I wanted to go next (trusting it to know even better than I do what that is).
When you have lived like I used to, where most interactions entailed stress — where there was striving and exhaustion instead of trust and flow and boundless energy, hopelessness and scary visions instead of fearlessness and curiosity about what each moment will bring — the striking contrast in the grace and gifts of internal freedom (compared to the mind-made prison that used to be my life) does not escape me for a moment and I trust will feel amazing to you too!
Helping out Your Littlest Parts is a Sacred Privilege
Keep questioning the thinking that separates you from yourself, others, this moment, and all the absolutely unique and limitless potential realities the universe simultaneously presents. Each moment is simply what you place your attention on. Many people I know—myself included—used to take that as a scolding (well, I guess if I choose my own reality and I’m not happy, then I’ve no one to blame but myself). How cruel is that?
If you could choose differently, you would! And when you can’t, when you’re suffering even a little bit with not loving the reality you have in any given moment, it simply means you need some compassionate, proactive, efficient, and effective help for the parts of you that are believing the one thought behind all emotional pain: “I need this moment (me, them, life) to be different than it is.”
No pursuit is more important than the sacred privilege of helping out the littlest parts of you that are believing that thought, and that naturally get to work effortlessly receiving the grace, guidance, and serendipity of each moment as the errors in that faulty thinking fall away under the kind light of the No-Matter-What Way.