A scratchbook for my thoughts on the meandering paths of life.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Freedom and Humor

What is freedom? How can freedom be attained in a world we have woven around ourselves? Each thread we have sewn ourselves. Everything you look at around you you must accept is a reflection of yourself. Everything in your life you must accept responsibility for. You can talk to a psychologist and they can help you blame your parents for everything. And you might believe it. But in the end it doesn't really matter. They are not responsible. Only you are.

But if I have myself created everything around me, how can I find freedom in it? Must I walk away from everything? Leave everything and start again? I've been told that travelling is a great, freeing experience. You start each day anew, from scratch, and rediscover yourself. You shed, each day, the past. You meet people who do not know you, and you have a chance to constantly reinvent yourself.

And I would love to do that, but I don't want to throw everything away. And leaving is just not always an option. And when you know that freedom is a state of the heart, then the thought of leaving everything feels a bit like cheating. Not that there's anything wrong with a little cheating. God will not throw you out. It's not a game of blackjack.

But you know that everything you see around you, everything you have created, everything you are responsible for you, is transient. It is not so different now than it was when you were a child. Only when you were a child your mind was flexible, your heart was innocent. You did not think you were anything, you just lived. Now you think you know who you are. "I am like this" and "this is the way I am". Which, of course, is rubbish. We all know that, even though so many of us say that. It sounds good.

But really I think the problem is that we stand too close. If you have ever painted or sculpted, you know that you have to keep stepping back. Because you keep losing perspective. Sometimes even stepping back is not enough, you have to leave and come back another time.

It's the same with our lives. We naturally tend to go on vacations, because we know we need to step back. And when we come back things usually look fresher, crisper. Sometimes it's depressing to come back. It's not a sculpture. If you fuck it up you can't just chuck it out and start over. So sometimes it's depressing to come back.

But the path to freedom is in the non-attachment. I won't recite the four noble truths and I'm not saying you have to meditate. But you have to remember your life is small. You have to remember that you are a guest in this world and in your life. It definitely matters. You know that because it often hurts. But it is, first and foremost, an experience. Don't shrink in it. Don't become small looking at the smallness you have created. Don't become small when people talk you down. Watch Man On the Moon. Expand. Laugh about it. Humor is so underestimated. Humor is the releaser from attachment. Humor breaks the bonds, humor is a step back, humor puts things in perspective. Humor makes you less important. Humor removes you from the center of the world.

Laugh about yourself. You're just like all the others. You may feel different and you surely are. But you suffer just like the next person. You make the same mistakes. They may think you're great or you're awful, but they are only judging themselves, because they are no different. Our hearts tug on the same weave. Our minds pull thoughts out of the same ether. Our bodies are built from the same dust.

Free yourself from self-importance. Self importance in a world with billions of people - in which you can never be the best at anything and even if you happen to be, then you're still horrible at so many other things compared to others - is funny. So have a laugh at your own expense. You're not THAT important. 

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