Wednesday, February 25, 2009

what is freedom?

what is freedom?

Sometimes I think in life we hold "things" much too dearly. We acquire stuff to make us happy. We think we "need" the next new thing. Our homes are filled with items that we forget about. Not long after getting something, it's tucked away in some corner to be soon forgotten. We make "wish lists", or we buy things on a whim when we are unhappy or we feel we deserve it. I know I've done it much too often. I have gotten better at not purchasing things I don't need, but there are times I am caught up by the moment and I think I need those new boots or even just going out to eat with friends, when we could have a lovely time making a meal ourselves for half the price.

I look around my room and I see stuff I never use. I think to myself, "I'll clean it up one of these days, but I'm so busy right now. I don't have time." I must make time. There is always time to do something if you really want to do it. I've been thinking a lot lately about removing as much stuff from my life that I can. I've thought about this a lot. It ties in quite a bit with my desire to be more self-sufficient. Making my own things, being more natural instead of caving into the things in this world which surrounds us daily. Those billboards and those commercials on the television that scream "BUY ME! YOU NEED ME!" When only those things are what make us kill ourselves to work harder, to make more money, to buy more things. And all for what? So that we can be happy for a short time? Because the happiness does not last. And then what you are left with is just a cluttered room and less space.

I think of what Charlotte Brontë said, "I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will." I feel the only thing that comes from acquiring more stuff in our life is a net; a cage. It does nothing to free us, even though the world likes to tell us that through having more money and buying more things, that somehow, it makes you more of an independent person. But the way I look at it, that is so far from true. We are slaves to ourselves by having this idea of needing things in our life. America is supposed to be the richest country in the world, but why is that? Because we are "free?" Because we have more stuff? What is freedom? Is it having more money? Perhaps I am getting on a bunny-trail here, really leading to no conclusion. But when you honestly think about it, are we truly free? So many times we don't listen to ourselves and we do what our neighbor is doing, because we are scared to break outside the social norm. It seems in today's society, the idea of independence and freedom is so much different than the true definition. It's something to think about. I'm not preaching to anyone. I'm as much to blame as anyone.

And now that I've rambled on long enough, I must get back to my work.

Be well.

7 comments:

Industrioushead said...

Your post really resonated with me. I've struggled with the same questions all my life. Now I've come to realize that work truly isn't connected with money, although we are taught to believe that it is. That we have to "earn a living".

Work is play is life. Everything we do takes energy, and when you combine that with something you want to do and love to do and it serves others, then you have a life and a lively hood. You're happy and making a contribution to people. (I could go on about our banking/monetary system, but I won't, it's only depressing.)

So, I think you've done well to pick a career that you love and makes you happy.

I read your blog daily and think that your dresses are so beautiful. Maybe some day I'll be able to get one!

Yours,
Emily

Elizabeth said...

Have you read your money or your life?

It might be a good idea. We should start a book club or something around it.

I also take time to regularly declutter. I do this two ways:

by standing in my room and pretending I prep it for a magazine photo shoot. I know things don't have to be perfect, but sometimes that lens will bring out things that I usually miss.

Also I try to throw out a few things every day. Even if it's just paper that's built up.

Oh, and moving a lot helps ;)

copperseal said...

really great post. :)

Shannon said...

I've sort of been quietly horrified as we've been going through the moving process these last few months. How it is taking so long to sort through all the stuff we've accumulated. And it's not like we've ever really had any money to even spend...we still surround ourselves with things that we do not need. We talk all the time of going nomadic for a while, but what would we do with all these...things? How I would love to be able to fit my life in a covered wagon and just go...

But alas, we instead wonder how on earth we are going to fit ourselves into the tiny cabin...

Alanna said...

how you're feeling is interesting in relation to some of your very recent photographs. They show very empty spaces: the landscape and then the oven with the pizza was actually quite depressing. the wrong kind of emptiness is hallow "le vide faux est creux" (sometimes I think my translations raise eyebrows because I dont' always make the most sense in english...) You're desire for stuff-less-ness reminds me of when Bob and Joan (jews in california)'s house burnt down in the mid 90s and they lost everything, they realized in short order that while tragically a few precious items were lost, for the most part it wasn't what they owned that made their life full. I think we can go too far with owning and possessing, as with the Epicureans of old, BUT I think we can almost give objects too much power if we forget that many things can be simply owned and enjoyed in their right place and perspective. This makes me think too of Lent right now, where I gave up Nutella and during the day chocolate because they're things that I honestly feel addicted to at times... Lent is general test of making sure my chief pleasures don't have too much power over me.
One last unrelated thing- the woman I'm living with is SO racist but she'll say "I'm not racist, I wish them no harm, it's just the chinese, blacks, arabs, north africans..." and then will go on to recount a story of how she wouldn't touch someone because of their race or do the french "bizous" greeting with a black man. Thank you conversation cafe for making this so crazily relevant. I wish Shaun was here to hear it and be appalled.

Anna Allen said...

Alanna, can you read minds? Thank you so much for writing that. I think you can definitely see through me. I try not to show it, but I was feeling pretty low yesterday. And with two cups of strong coffee and deep thought, I began writing. I do believe that we hold "things" in our life much more dearly than we should. Sometimes I feel the only way to rid my mind of the cobwebs is to literally clean my house. Get rid of anything unnecessary. After all, I'm young and there may be a time when I have to leave on a whim. It's not that I have a ton of things, but I know I have more than I think. And I just see this year as opening up a world of a lot of change. Perhaps moving. Anyway, I'm sure things will look up. And thank you for writing. You have lifted my spirits considerably!

OH, about your racist roommate...oh dear! I'll tell Shaun what you said. We can't get away from them, can we? Well I'm glad she has you for a roommate. (Even though I'm sure it doesn't help you any!) I didn't think there were so many racist people here, but geez...Hey, if there is ever a way to call, let me know! I would love to catch up with you. I could get a phone card or something.

nicole said...

such important words. thank you for sharing.