Every time a holiday, a repeat special event or ceremony comes around I sometimes think it’s cliché to talk about it – AGAIN. It seems expected, overdone, and frankly I wonder if there is anything else new to offer on the subject or any more gold to be mined.
And yet here I sit with July 4th right around the corner and what comes to mind? FREEDOM OF COURSE! Freedom… expected… I think of our forefathers and their fight for freedom. You know what? Their fight was messy. But then I started to sit with it and really contemplate what freedom means. This practice almost always yields a romp through the dictionary for the etymology of the word as well its myriad of definitions. Here’s a few of the meanings:
- the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
- liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another
- and MY FAVORITE – the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken
Generally we think of freedom as release from a burden. However, looking at the roots of the word freedom you find its origins to mean “power of self-determination.” Once again, I find myself confronted with the notion that someone else does not determine my experience of freedom – something I forget once in a while.
We are told we can claim our freedom, but freedom from what? We have unlimited freedom to think as we choose, as well as to attract into our lives whatever we desire. As true as all this is, how many of us really feel FREE most of the time? And do I have clarity of what being FREE means? How many of us have things in our lives that we are a little perplexed about how they got there? We think, “Did I really attract that?”
So if I go one step closer and look at the roots of the word “free” it takes me even deeper. To be “free” means “to love, think of lovingly, honor…” This I can get behind. We have been bombarded by almost every spiritual teacher and tradition that freedom is about letting go of what I don’t need or what no longer serves me. There is of course truth in this. Yet beyond that, if I am humble enough, empty enough or naked enough I will find the place that is pure enough, and more than enough for life. It is the place of honor – of love. It is the place of freedom where I can connect with everybody and no one, and nothing is eliminated.
My experience in life is determined largely by how I relate to everything around me and within me. And while there are relationships, habits and beliefs to dismantle or release in order to know that place of freedom, mostly it’s about putting things together – making friends and relating with everything. Remember when I said that the root of the word free is “honor?” Well that’s what making friends with everything means – being honorable.
Honor is the natural expression of honesty and integrity in my actions. My higher self will always guide me in the honorable direction as I consider how my actions might affect the interconnected web of life, how I am relating to everything. Living a principled life of honesty and integrity honors others as well because I become a beacon of inspiration to others when I walk the honorable path. And, honor cannot exist without love.
The moment I begin to friend everything and start putting things together, as an honorable being, I awaken an eternal paradox – I am reminded just how small and naked I am AND in that smallness I see my presence matters completely because it becomes about ALL life, not just about me. It is love and honor – pure freedom – our individual and collective power of self-determination.
Akhenaton said, “Honor is the inner garment of the Soul, the first thing put on by it with the flesh, and the last it lays down at its separation from it.” So I may not be able to hold on to the people I have come to love so dearly. I may not get the dream job I worked so hard for, or lose the child for which I have planned and prayed. I probably have found myself watching a teacher, mentor or spiritual guide fall from grace. Whatever losses I have stepped into, each is a “friend” waiting for me to arrange as stepping stones for my path of honor, my path of freedom. So this year, being free, and freedom, are not things I have, but are a dance with living, loving and deep honor.