No, I’m not talking about that F-word, but rather a different four letter word: FREE.
I’ve been told by many people that I am a free spirit. If you ever saw the movie Shawshank Redemption, you might remember when Red said that Andy is one of those birds that just aren’t meant to be caged.
That’s me. I can’t be caged. I used to be caged… caught up in the cycle of cubicle captivity and the commuter curse. Not anymore.
Gandhi was a big believer that simple living is the fastest way to freedom.
I agree. When I started living simply, I realized that I didn’t need a 6-figure salary, so I freed myself.
1. I’m free from the alarm clock. I don’t think it is natural to wake up to literally an ‘alarming noise’ while in a deep sleep. Additionally, waking up while it is still dark is not natural and to keep a good circadian rythm, we should get out into direct sunlight as soon as possible after waking. This is very hard to do with a full time office job. Now, I work on my terms.
2. I’m free from car ownership. When cars first came out and just a few people owned them, then yes, they could signify freedom. But with traffic and urban sprawl, they are now considered a nuisance to many people. Walking is a wonderful activity that, as humans, we need. This is not something that is just recommended, but there is an innate mind-body connection with our gaits and being aware of our surroundings that is important for deep, holistic health. Being free of a car means that I get more than ample time walking outdoors and contemplating. For longer treks, there are planes, trains and rental automobiles.
3. I’m free from the gripping hold of electronics. Yes, I use electronics, and probably too often. However, I try to look at electronics as just another tool for work and entertainment, and I actively try to avoid the plague of constant connectivity. Have you ever seen someone lose a phone? They have a panic stricken reaction like they lost their child. I don’t have a Smartphone and I am not on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. A couple of years ago when my contract ran out, I decided to go a year without any cell phone. If someone wanted to reach me, it could only be at home. If my computer needs repair, I go to the library to use the public computers instead of get anxious while it is being repaired. I sometimes write with just pen and paper to give my screentime a rest and simplify my routine. I rarely use my computer on the weekends. I read 2-4 books a week, always in their physical form.
4. I’m free from the gym. I used to be a gym rat for years and years. I would drive the measly mile to get to the gym to go on the treadmill and do weights on my ‘scheduled body parts’ for that day. Then I found authors like Mark Sisson and Katy Bowman. I have now switched over to performing full body functional movements outdoors instead of spending my time and money on equipment that puts our bodies in unnatural positions and isolates muscles. Additionally, movement should be done throughout the day instead of in a one hour power packed session. I may not have the sculpted physique of a bodybuilder, but I have more energy, more strength, more flexibility, more speed, more calmness and an overall feeling of better holistic health and wellness than when I was a gym rat.
5. I’m free from vacations. I can travel the world on my terms. Not, on a 3-week a year basis. I don’t have to ask for permission. I don’t even need “vacations” because I’m not stuck in a mind-numbing job trapped inside for 40+ hours a week. Plus, I get bored with luxury vacations. Instead, I travel for extended periods and plan to volunteer and work overseas for better cultural immersion. I travel for experience, not to ‘get away from it all’ or to be pampered by the locals.
6. I’m free from stuff. Yes, I still have some stuff, but when I was married to my first husband, we had a lot of toys…. his and hers motorcycles, we each had a road bike and a mountain bike, hiking equipment, camping equipment, hang gliders, airplanes, hot tub, fancy sports cars, etc… I’m not joking. Guess what? I wasn’t happy and we are divorced. Now, I live simply and minimally with my current husband and I am much more content. I can rent or borrow anything I need to have any experience I want in almost any place on the planet.
7. I’m free from my coffee addiction. I used to be one of these people who couldn’t think about anything else but coffee the minute I woke up. It wasn’t even just the caffeine, it was the smell, the percolating sound, the robust flavor, the warmth. It was a habit that I wanted to break. Now, I enjoy myself a cup at a nice cafe, but I don’t need it for energy first thing in the morning. I don’t drink it every day and I don’t drink it at home. I feel much more in control of my consumption now and that is important to me. It is now a treat instead of a ‘need’.
8. I’m free from the (not so) great indoors. Since I work because I want to and not because I have to, I don’t need to be stuck in a cubicle all day. I can get my healthy dose of sun everyday and plenty of exercise outdoors. I have the time and lifestyle that allows me to acclimate to some pretty extreme temperature swings, so I’m not generally stuck indoors in the middle of a heat spell or a winter wonderland.
How anyone can be free: Live simply. Always know when you have enough.
Here is a story I found on the internet:
At a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host, a hedge fund manager, had made more money in a single day than Heller had earned from his wildly popular novel Catch-22 over its whole history.
Heller said, “Yes, but I have something he will never have: Enough.”
How about you? Are you free? Or does something, someone or a constant want have a hold on you?