It all starts when we’re three years old.
We’re told that we’ll join other kids and play together all day long. Playing all day long.. That sounds pretty damn awesome.
Let’s do this. Freedom!
What nobody told us is that we have to show up every single day. No matter what.
Not so awesome anymore. Freedom..?
A few years later we’re being told the exact same story.
The only difference is that playing is now restricted to a single room where we have to sit straight and are not allowed to talk to our friends anymore. We’re also not allowed to choose what to play.
From now on playing is called learning. Freedom..?
Some 10+ years down the road we’re finally free! We graduated from high school and now the world is ours. We can do whatever we want to. Puuuh. Freedom at last!
But what to do with all of this freedom?
What to do with all of the free time?
All of these choices..
Well, we do what we were taught over the past decade or so.
We try to blend in.
We try to do the same stuff everybody else is doing.
We try to find the room where everybody else is sitting up straight, not talking to their friends and not having any fun.
We have no clue what to do with our newly gained freedom.
So we do the things we already know.
Just like Barry Schwartz described it in his book The Paradox of Choice.
We’re so overwhelmed by the almost unlimited amount of choice that we simply stick to what everybody else is doing.
We “backpack” to the same places everybody else is going.
We have the same agenda everybody else has. A safe job. A house. A family.
We try to get into the same schools everybody else wants to get in.
We study something we’re barely interested in.
We try to get the same jobs everybody else wants.
We start working a job we don’t really care about.
We start companies we don’t really care about.
It’s the easiest way. The way with as little friction as possible.
All of this to be free one day! Free to do whatever you like. Paradise!
Ahhh, finally, freedom after 40+ years of work.
Only to realize that the joke was on us.
Only to realize that our minds might be free but our bodies are holding us back from experiencing all of the great things we always dreamed about.
All of the things that kept us alive working a job we didn’t like. Living a life we didn’t care about.
Only to realize that our bodies are now too weak or too sick to do all of the things we dreamed about. That even our minds have gotten too weak for all of this. Fed up.
Learning how to surf.
Learning how to play the guitar.
Becoming a martial arts fighter.
Traveling the world.
Visiting every country.
Living in a tent for a year.
Doing something for charity.
Finally saving people’s lives.
Only to realize that our minds and bodies are too weak to do any of the above..
The joke really was on us. All.the.time.
The path of less friction might be the easiest, but it’s also the path where we don’t have to deal with ourselves.
It’s the path that allows us to ignore what we might really want to be doing.
What we really love.
Finding out what you really want in life is probably the toughest thing out there.
I hate this more than anything else in the world.
But this is the only way to ultimately become free.
To love yourself. Your life. And everybody around you.
While trying to ignore ourselves and what we really want, the grip around our throats gets tighter and tighter.
The grip of always taking the path of as little friction as possible.
Without noticing it we start to lose our stamina.
Without noticing it we turn into the pessimists society wants us to be.
This loss of stamina is destroying our dreams, our ambitions, our motivations and our muse.
We start to build a prison around ourselves.
A prison for life.
A prison that constantly tells us that this is never going to work out, that this is just a stupid dream of ours, that in this harsh world, childish dreams don’t have a place to stay.
Little by little our life energy fades away.
And with it our ambitions to make a difference.
Until you start to hate yourself.
Your life, your spouse, your boyfriend (or girlfriend) or your kids.
You start to blame others for your misery of not doing anything.
Of not having the balls to change things. To live your dreams. To find your passion. To live a life you deeply care about.
But there’s a way out.
There’s a way out of this prison. Out of a breathless existence.
It’s tough. Really tough. And it won’t work from one day to another.
You need to start small.
Just like you need to start small if you want to lose 100 pounds.
If you want to run a marathon.
If you want to start a business.
It needs a hell lof of persistence.
Persistence and constant training.
Training of getting used to your freedom.
Of accepting the fact that you’ve been living in a prison that only exists in your mind, for many years.
A prison that was unlocked all the time.
You could easily have walked away.
But you stayed inside the prison walls.
These walls made you feel safe and secure. No danger.
These walls protected you from all the harm that waits outside.
All of these years just to realize that you were free all along.
That you’re free to simply walk away.
To do the things you always wanted to do.
Whatever that freedom might look like for you.
For me, writing this is the ultimate experience of freedom..
Photo by Scott Robinson