Freedom comes from within, not from without

Imagine yourself standing completely alone in a small room surrounded by high walls with no light.

There is also no door and no window. You start running around with your hands trembling and sweating, and your eyes full of tears. Yet when dozens of efforts to diminish the walls come in vain, you come to realisation that no action of yours is going to change the fact that you are in a trap and there is no way out.

At this moment you will probably start reflecting on your life and how you ended up being in such a situation. Suppressed by the feeling of the inescapability, though still alive, a rational animal inside you will start conjuring causes and effects.

It may turn out, for example, that you got illegally jailed because you once accidentally offended a policeman or failed to satisfy the demands of your creditors. You may even begin angrily cursing the state which values its police officers more than you or the laws that failed to protect you. But does it really matter now? Regardless of what led to the outcome, you are still in that room hungry and scared. And free?

Yes, you are free and you have an endless variety of choices. You can accept the situation, give up fighting or make another effort to break down the door. You can even chose not to chose.

The question is whether you are willing to recognise that freedom and accept it, even though you’ve always defined freedom in a different way. You’ll begin recalling yourself of the high shelves in supermarkets and dishes in your favourite restaurant.

“By locking me up here, they deprived me of my freedom,” will be rotating in your mind. But did they? They rid you of many other options, yet they didn’t and never would take away your freedom to question reality and, consequently, yourself. That being said, your inner freedom always remains with you. Yet do you want it?

Yes and no. You want to be free to ascribe all the variety of harmonious positive traits to yourself, to complain about the flaws of others and judge, to overestimate your achievements, and to assure yourself that the causes of all your problems lie somewhere outside.

But you don’t want to be free to accept your fragility and insecurity, your contradictions and flaws, your sickening need of community which corresponds with the fear of being ostracised. You certainly don’t want to be free to the extent that you can voluntarily reconcile with the consequences of your actions and thoughts.

There is no escape. You can’t be a vagabond and an artist and still be a solid citizen, a wholesome, upstanding man. You want to get drunk, so you have to accept the hangover. You say yes to the sunlight and pure fantasies, so you have to say yes to the filth and the nausea. Everything is within you, gold and mud, happiness and pain, the laughter of childhood and the apprehension of death. Say yes to everything, shirk nothing. Don’t try to lie to yourself. You are not a solid citizen. You are not a Greek. You are not harmonious, or the master of yourself. You are a bird in the storm. Let it storm! Let it drive you!” – Hermann Hesse.

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