As the song goes “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”. If we could let go of everything in our lives that we cling to for security, reassurance and comfort in order to simply “be” in the world, would we feel free? How do we know if we are free? We have the freedom to think our own thoughts and to express our feelings as we deem appropriate. We can take a free day off work and lie on the beach or spend time with family and friends. Some people have the freedom to eat and sleep when they want or to buy whatever they desire. We can categorize freedom and say there is freedom of time, money, space, etc.,
but what does it mean to be truly free? How would it make us feel? What would it look like and how would it change our lives?
Some mystics would say that freedom comes from not having any physical, emotional, or psychic attachments to anything – no needs of any kind, so there is nothing to cling to or to defend. Realistically, very few humans have created a lifestyle where true freedom is achieved and celebrated. We all say to ourselves things like “I wish I had more time to …” or “I get so tired of this” or “I should do …”, and on and on our minds go. If we could observe our thoughts on a continual basis, the internal dialogue would suggest that freedom is the farthest thing from our reality. The paradox about freedom is that no one person can explain exactly what it means to be free because it holds a different meaning for everyone and yet freedom in some form is what all humans basically strive for. Therefore, if we don’t know what it means to be free or at least have a vision of freedom in our minds, how can we possibly attain it, for mystics also say that our thoughts create our reality. Maybe freedom is simply an illusion.
Sometimes we think we have freedom, but we don’t. There is always something in our lives that is holding us back from moving forward, feeling at peace, and being truly happy. As I recently found out, I thought I had created freedom in my life by letting go of all my worldly possessions that were weighing me down – a job, a lovely home and all its contents, a car and motorcycle, treasured books, etc. I set up house in a 25-foot travel trailer with my remaining valued and needed possessions and was ready to spread my wings, hit the road and let spirit guide me. I believed that I was finally free to start my travelling adventure. But my freedom was more than letting go of my outside world and material possessions; it also meant letting go of anything that was holding me back in my emotional inner world, as I would find out.
One of the biggest stresses in my life during this transition from homesteader to gypsy has been my constant companion of twelve years, my cat named Indy. Cats simply don’t like
change, and Indy is no exception. He has always been an uncanny barometer for my emotional energy, and as soon as I made the difficult and harrowing decision to relinquish the security of a steady income and a comforting home, he began to exhibit stressful behaviour by licking and scratching incessantly for days until most of the fur on his tail
and back legs was gone. There was no doubt in my mind that he knew of the change that was about to come to light even before his physical world began to take a different form.
In addition to this stress, I was also concerned about Indy for two other reasons. Firstly, he was not a great traveller so he couldn’t go with me. I would have to make another difficult decision – give him to someone else or give him to God. Secondly, he was a big part of my emotional life and it would be very difficult for me to part with him. I hoped that my friends in Ontario would adopt him once I got there on the first leg of my journey, but I didn’t know that for sure because I avoided asking them. I was just hoping they would, and I wasn’t prepared for their answer if they didn’t. I was not only avoiding the decision but also avoiding taking any action to resolve the issue. The uncertainty was unsettling and the grief that I was beginning to feel over my precious boy increased as our outside world began to transform around us. I treasured every moment that we spent together as if it were the last. I couldn’t bear the thought of Indy not being in my life, or having to put him down, so I avoided the decision and distracted myself by keeping busy preparing the RV for the long journey which would eventually take me to Arizona. I was in denial.
Very early in September I set my departure date, said goodbye to friends and family, but the departure date came and I hadn’t left. I discovered a leak in the RV and it needed to be repaired. So with this job done, I set another departure date for the next week; but that date came and I still hadn’t left. The old battery in the RV went dead. So I purchased a new battery, hooked it up, and yet again set another departure date. You’re getting the idea – that battery went dead as well. There was one obstacle after another which prevented my leaving. Through all this time, I had a strange feeling in my heart that I wasn’t ready to leave. Even my repeated goodbyes to friends and family didn’t feel like goodbyes. I also had the feeling that the people around me were not taking me seriously about my stated departure. I had an unexplained anxiety that I knew wasn’t related to hauling the trailer or travelling by myself. I distracted myself from these feelings by keeping busy. But this anxious feeling persisted and not only was it a mystery to me but also it was robbing me of my excitement and expected feelings of freedom.
Just before my actual departure, I went to visit some dear friends and told them of my unexpected delays with the RV and strange anxiety about leaving. When they got around to asking about Indy, I found myself welling up inside with grief and I started to cry. One friend said “I think you’ve just found your block.” That was the light bulb moment. I realized that my denial of Indy’s future was the unfinished emotional business that was holding me back and preventing me from wanting to leave on my travels. The longer I unconsciously delayed departure, the more time that I would have with Indy and I wouldn’t have to make any challenging decision about him. That was the mystery anxiety but I just couldn’t see it until that moment. Now some people might say that the unexpected events such as dead batteries and water leaks had nothing to do with how I was feeling, that these challenges would have happened regardless of my emotional self. But I believe that at some level of my unconscious being I created this reality out of fear of losing Indy.
That evening I made the difficult phone call to my friends in Ontario to ask them if they would adopt Indy. They didn’t say no but wanted a day to talk it over. When I called the next evening, the first sound I heard was my friend’s voice saying a resounding “Yes, yes, yes!!!” A huge weight was instantly lifted off my shoulders and I finally felt a relief from the anxious fear. There was a solution. Indy would have a good home and wonderful parents. As much as I would miss him, I had closure and the anxiety diminished greatly.
But until I dealt with his future, I felt like I had everything to lose in the uncertainty. I certainly wasn’t free and I realized that all of my anxiety was based on the possibility that my friends would say no and I would be faced with having to put Indy down, a thought that I just couldn’t accept or deal with.
A few days ago, Indy and I arrived safely at my friends’ home near Perth, Ontario. As soon as the RV stopped on the tree-lined driveway of their very peaceful rural property, Indy jumped off his back seat travelling perch and went to the car window. For the first time in the four days on the long road from Nova Scotia, he became very excited by what he saw – beautiful multi-coloured fall-decorated trees, leaves cascading cautiously from a gentle breeze to the already vibrant looking earth with over ripened fallen apples fighting for the remaining light, and seemingly carefree small birds fleeting from branch to branch. With no encouragement from his mom, Indy has been settling in to his new home amazingly well, and I am hopefully dealing with the very last item on my long list of things to let go of to finally feel the freedom that comes from nothing left to lose.