Sendai, Japan. (5 min. read)
Let me ask you something, are you free?
If you look up the word freedom in the dictionary you will find that freedom can be defined in more than a dozen different ways. Among these, freedom can be regarded as
- the absence of or release from ties or obligations;
- ease or facility of movement or action.
Now, based on these two definitions of freedom, tell me, are you really free?
I’ve been having a recurrent conversation with myself lately that I need to get out somehow. So here it goes.
You are constantly measuring life in the wrong units, and you are not alone.
It is almost as if in the process of converting your inner needs and desires into outer actions and behaviors you are falling into the common mistake of mixing up metric and imperial units — you are falling short. And that when thinking in terms of what you really want, the whys and for whats behind the things you do and pursue, only then you realize how misled you were with some of the decisions you made.
What do you want to get out of life?
Let me help you, the answer is freedom.
It is the conditions of those we consider ‘successful’ what most of us seek to replicate. It is their state of existence, not their means. It is their freedom.
Freedom to decide what to do, where to be, and how to spend our time.
It is not the fame, the money, the power, the privileges, the pats on the back, the stars in the chest, the laurel crowns, or the crowds of flatterers what you are after.
You want the freedom of not being held accountable. The freedom to leave everything behind without remorse or negative consequences. The freedom to love. The freedom to play. The freedom to fail. The freedom to save yourself from the calendar. The freedom of laziness. The freedom of apathy. The freedom to work nine hours a day inside a fiery kitchen, drenched in sweat, with pain in your feet and a smile in your face, not because you have to, but because you choose to; because in your endeavour of nurturing freedom you wanted to experience a new life and in so doing you filled yourself with an uncontainable joy.
I know it is hard to understand. It is equally hard for me to explain.
If you were to ask me, are you free? I would most certainly answer, yes, I am. At least in this present moment in time, I feel like I am.
I am writing these lines at 4:46 a.m. on a Wednesday. The things I do and the decisions I made are a direct consequence of my present frame of mind. I sleep when I’m tired. I work when I’m excited — just like about now — and I play when I’m frustrated. Do I have obligations and responsibilities? Of course I do. Are those meant to keep me busy while wadding my ego and providing my days with a false sense of importance and purpose? Most certainly not.
Why? Because I have come to realize that in my freedom resides the source of my tranquility. That wealth and means are just tools and methods that if used appropriately can set me free without all the busyness nonsense.
I have realized that the units we use define the outcome of what we measure. And that my tranquility is best when measured in terms of freedom of choice; and so it is towards creating freedom of choice where the majority of my efforts are directed.
Let’s talk about what you’re most likely thinking at this moment. Let’s talk about money.
Money helps, that’s common knowledge. We all know that.
But there is only under the right circumstances that money helps.
When money is regarded as a tool, we don’t need a lifetime to replicate the conditions of those we consider successful. We can easily replicate the outcome of their circumstances within a few months of work, discipline, and clarity of mind. Because remember, it is freedom we are after; no yachts, or feasts, or weekends in Kuramathi.
When money is regarded as a tool, it becomes an asset; when thought of as an objective, or a kpi for those in business, it becomes a liability.
I’m constantly re-evaluating the aim of my efforts to make sure that my wife and I live under very specific conditions. Conditions that allow us to turn our lives up-side-down if we so desire, to steer our days in the direction that we want, and to stop the clock whenever we feel is needed. The decisions we make is only but ours. It is in the execution however, when, well, some money is required.
But how much money would you pay for your own freedom? How much money are you already paying while craving for that eventual unoccupied, unrestricted future?
For us, freedom is found exactly at the expense of six months without income — that’s our “freedom threshold”.
We’ve found that we need, in the worst case scenario, a maximum of six months to be able to generate new opportunities for ourselves. In the course of making sure that we created an environment in which the latter was possible, we decided to set aside part of our salaries until we hit that goal — well, mostly her salary, I work in academia remember? — and then we breathed. How much is that depends on you and your desired way of living. At that point, our assets became tools and our living conditions became the foundation that help us live wherever we want, however we want. Beyond that point, there are no goals, no long-term plans, no ladders, no debts, no dreary jobs, no end of the road.
I may sound delirious and only time will tell whether I am remarkably and publicly wrong. But I can’t help but notice how most people work their ways towards undefined goals, wasting their lives in worthless routines and harmful behaviors. How most people don’t even know why they do what they do; while the source of their tranquility lies within their reach.
We all want to live a good life, a happy life.
And although most of these terms lack of any meaning without definition, in my opinion a happy life starts the moment you hit the road towards your freedom.
Because in freedom resides the source of your tranquility.