Is There Such a Thing as Being Too Free?

In the last few years, I have more freedom than I know what to do with.

It started with the “nest leaving”.  Within just a four year time span,  I experienced more than my fair share of it to include four graduations (2 daughters receiving a Bachelor Degree and a Master Degree each ), the wedding of my older daughter and- sadly – a tragic and premature death of my beloved dog.  It crescendoed with the “career leaving”, then kind of ending after close to thirty years.

What exactly do we mean when we talk about being “free?” anyway as there are a number of nuances to its meaning.  As defined by Webster’s the word “free”  can either be a feeling – “the enjoyment of personal rights or liberty; to be exempt from external authority, interference, restriction etc. on a person’s will, thought, choice, action etc”.  or – it can also mean that something you want costs nothing, that it comes without a price.

The logical conclusion then should be that ‘freedom” by definition should be free, that there is no price to pay for it, that it comes at no cost etc.

But that’s not true is it?

We don’t get freedom for free – conversely, we hold onto to it tightly, die for it, live for it, maybe even compromise for it?

How could any state of being, of existence that is so universally coveted be attained without putting other things at stake, without fighting for it?

I think whoever decided that free also means “costs nothing” made a mistake. I think there was supposed to be a different word for something that costs nothing. Like worthless or valueless or meaningless or something like that.

Because being free is definitely has a cost, it is not “free” as I was to learn the freer I became.

The summer that my oldest daughter went off to college and three years before her sister followed her, I was serendipitously led to adopting a sweet and loving little puppy. Aflie, my precious Shitzu became my third child, my constant companion who filled the empty space after my other two “babies” left the nest.

He died four years later, just a week or so before July 4. His death and the way he died catalyzed my departure from my job of twenty years.

Freedom had always been a strong and primary personal value of mine and now here I was now perched on it’s precipice, the very thing I had been seeking for so long now within my grasp.

After Alfie died , and I no longer had my job, and with my kids already gone off to school, I suddenly found myself surrounded with so much freedom that I was lost, utterly bewildered by what to do or how to be now that roles, structure and responsibility no longer defined my daily being.

I was free at last.

Free – from daily obligation and responsibility (other than to myself). Free – from titles, status, endless meetings and bosses telling me what to do. Free – from early morning and late night dog walks, from not being able to spontaneously go away. Free – from car pools, and having to leave work early, and from child rearing as a first priority.

Yes, I was “free” from all of that.

But I was also free from the sounds and laughter and hugs of children, my children, from the camaraderie of co-workers, from the financial comfort my paycheck brought, from having a reason to get up and get dressed nice everyday, and from having a nice office to go to and interesting people to interact with.

I was free from the joy my little puppy gave me.

I was so free that I was staring down a wide and open abyss without a clue where to go, what was next or how to get there. In place of the structures and routines I was used to, there was a loneliness I had never known, and an emptiness that left me breathless from the shock of no longer being needed by anyone or anything.

Suddenly, all the things that gave me a reason to get outside of myself were gone. I was left with a daily dose of love to give and no one to pour it on.

After my doggie died so close to the day we celebrate freedom, I found myself pondering “Would I have wished for freedom it if I knew the extent of the loss that accompanied it? If I had understood that it required such painful letting go of that which defined me and gave me something to love and care for?

Be careful what you wish for as they say. Because if you are not careful, the price of freedom could very well be more costly than the very freedom that is being sought.

 Yet, I still simultaneously pursue and resist freedom. And I still want to be both free and safe at the same time. I have no conclusions except that perhaps living in conundrums and questions is precisely what individual freedom is all about. And, if that’s the case, I have more than my fair share of it.

And on that note, Happy Independence Day

With Grace,

SHARI

 

Are You Dancing on the Edge of Your Life Thinking You Have Forever?

NOTE:   This post was also published in Some Talk of You and Me under the title “Life is Now, Let’s Live it”

http://sometalkofyouandme.com/2015/04/19/life-is-now-lets-live-it-shari-sachs/

I am getting to that age where “unexpected” deaths are becoming more and expected, perhaps even accepted. Yesterday I went to a very sad, yet very beautiful and exceedingly divine memorial service for a 45 year old former colleague of mine who died “unexpectedly” after lingering for a couple of months subsequent to a brain aneurysm.

She had recently met and married a man who it turned out and much to both of their surprise to be the love of each other’s lives, finding each other after coming to close to giving up on love after years of singlehood and easing into mid-life (he ten years older) She quit her long held, chreished job and moved from the East Coast to California to be with him. They were just starting in mid-life, anew. They had found the very thing they thought they never would. By all accounts, their love was palpable and real and a light to others.

In the last several weeks I have learned of at least half a dozen deaths of people close to my age or younger (she was ten years younger) in my circles. Brothers and sisters of friends, childhood playmates, the ex-husband of a close friend.

Many of them were “unexpected”. A fast moving cancer that was never discovered for one, the fallout of a hardened life for another, a seemingly healthy heart that gave out without warning and the like for still others.

If I were sitting atop my spiritual perch right now (which I often am tempted to do) I could gain and try to give some comfort by pontificating about deeper understandings of life beyond death, the difference between physical bodies and formless timeless spirits, how death is merely a transition, a newly sculpted form – or lack of it, and how life here on Earth is merely an illusion, as some would believe. But, there are just times when the human part of me feels and needs to feel what it feels.

And what I feel in the wake of all of this reckoning is Grief. Grief over the loss of friends, or friends of friends or siblings of friends but also over the loss of my refusal to follow my soul’s calling too often when it beckoned.

I’m so sick of living a half- life, of being tentative and afraid, of not being ” all in”. I’m sick of seeking safety and missing out. I’m sick of regrets and woulda/shoulda/couldas. Tired of dancing around the edges of why I am here in the first place and at all. The Universe is showing me that this glorious, sensuous, painful, joyful, adventure-filled mystery we call LIFE can be over in an instant. Just like that (sound of fingers snapping).Despite our best laid plans. Despite our wishes and our waiting for the right time, moment, experience, place or person to do what we always yearned to do. Our physical forms can indeed “transition”, we can DIE before we did what we came to do, more importantly what we came to “be.”

I’m sure there is a prettier or more polished way of saying this. But I’m not wanting to be about making things look pretty or perfect anymore. I just want to be true, unafraid and unabashed and living each moment as if it is my last.

My surfer husband has taught me that there is a moment when you are catching a wave that you have to make a split second decision to “pull in” to the “barrel” of the wave – or not. The “barrel” I’m told is the transcendent spot of the wave, where spirit of surfer and sea merge. “Pulling in” is the only way to catch that part of the wave that will give you it’s ultimate ride. Fear, excitement, anticipation and sheer terror are all collude in a millisecond to force your decision. Pull in or not. One way or the other. There is no in-between.

To make the choice to not “pull in” does not necessarily mean you will get creamed, although you might. It’s just that you won’t get to experience the purest essence and exhilaration of that wave.   There will be more waves, if you are patient for sure, but that one ride that never was will never exist again. Ever.

I have decided, and am asking God/Spirit/Universe to assist me, to “pull in” to all that is calling to me with all the commitment, passion and fervor I can muster. It’s time, way past time. I have been sitting and waiting for that wave, splashing around in the water, running from it, or floating around it for too long.

I just pray it isnt too late.

What about you?

A New Kind of News for a New Kind of Earth?

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall – think of it, always.                                                 Ghandi

I spent most of today watching the events in Boston as they unfolded on tv.  As I watched, I had many, meandering thoughts as I’m sure many of you did and do. My thoughts tend to go in many different and somewhat wild directions however as I tend to now view these events as to how they relate to the evolution and hopefully the potential ascension of our species.

I am one of those people who could be considered an “empath.”  I absorb other people’s and my own energy – often to my detriment.  I absorb it all and all the way around. In addition to weeping and grieving for victims of tragedy I also find myself wondering  about the pain of the person who everyone wants to hate. I wonder how the same God that creates our light can also create such darkness in our own kind.  I think about what it must be like to be that person who is borne with that ugliness inside of them – what that must feel like to be hated or to hate or to be the one to have THAT be your purpose and your legacy in life.  Why. When. How.  It cant feel very good to feel that way inside. Nor can it feel good to those who bore them or raised them.

Because of this I also have trouble watching the news, especially as it is often portrayed.  Too much incomprehension or sadness or fear outweighing the hopeful or funny or cheerful.   I absorb sad, bad, inhumane etc  and it affects me.  Its hard for me to sit with it or to understand it even though I know its part of the human condition.  I know I’m naïve but I have trouble with labels like “evil” because I fundamentally believe that everything derives from the same divinity. I think such labels scare us and separate us; they simplify things and keep us from asking some questions that might need to be asked to truly understand the necessity of souls such as these to be present on this planet.  I wonder what it is about this being human thing that we even need it anymore.  And why we are so transfixed by it.  Me too.

I tried really hard not to watch the Boston coverage on the first day because of this but like all of us was invariably and inexorably drawn in, especially today.

But why is it?  Why are we so drawn in?  There is always the compelling stories of community and love and our being the best that we can be that come alongside the examples of the worst that we can be as human beings. We need this and each other and that sense of community amongst such horror.   But my question is this,  at this point in our species evolution, and after proving it time and time again, through tragic event after tragic event through tragic event, do we really still need such tragedy and terror to bring forth the inherent goodness and courageousness of people?  Do we really need bad things to happen to take stock, realize, appreciate and even celebrate?  Isnt there a way we can have all this goodness emerge – and more importantly report on goodness  -without the terror or the lost lives or the lost limbs to precede it.

I had this strong sense that came over me this morning that as a country and as a planet, maybe we are coming close to the time when we actually don’t need it anymore.  That we might actually be ready to ascend to a level where love can prevail purely on its own accord.

Or maybe I’m just an idealist.  Maybe I listen to too many John Lennon songs.  And read too many spiritual books.  Call me crazy.

Yes, I had this sense – or maybe it was just a mere wish – a yearning, even a pleading to the powers that orchestrate the gyrations of this planet that we are perhaps – please God –close to an end of the era where we need anymore examples of how well we respond to hate and fear to show us how well love.  We do it well. We know we do it well.  We don’t need the tests anymore.

It made me think of Ghandi’s quote above.  I wondered could we becoming close to a time where the tyrants and murderers fall for good?  A true “New Earth”.

I know we know how to love.  And how to love well.  I read and hear stories about it all the time. Stories about entrepeneurs creating businesses,  people volunteering,  non-profits being established, about writers, inventors, artists, innovators, donors doing good, and of ordinary people sacrificing their own lives to help one another.  So why aren’t we promoting these stories on the evening news with the same fervor and intensity as we do every major tragedy?

I’m no different than anyone else.  I find myself glued to the tv and the story as it unfolds live before my eyes.  Even though I cant stand the chaos that created it.  I cry at the heartbreak of every loss of life, I feel the shock of those who were there, and I marvel at  the beauty of people coming together in common purpose for a time and how love always triumphs.   I feel every part of the human story and connectedness to it all. And that’s why I watch, why we all watch I suppose

Still I’m troubled.  I think if we create an intention to sell more good news then perhaps we can create more good news. I’d kind of like to see us showcase more of how the light of humanity glows naturally even in the absence of horror to provoke it, especially in its absence.  I even think there is a lot more of this good stuff going on minute to minute, day to day than the other.  Maybe we can figure out a way for the word “good” to have the same visceral charge that the word “evil” does.

If I were Queen for a day I would love to issue a challenge for the news media and for all of us spectators.  How about for the next day or two all  “breaking news” be about some extraordinary uplifting event that is covered with the same ubiquity as when terror strikes one of our towns.  Special reports and 24/7 coverage on every major channel.  Maybe some VIPS, politicians or even the President himself could fly to the scene of goodness and have his speech broadcast on every news station. We could hear about how people are acting courageously and generously without also having to list the names of victims and speak of the sorrow that accompanies the glory.

In fact I’d love to see a whole news channel dedicated to the good that is going on in the world.  That doesn’t mean some bad stuff might still happen or need to be reported on but just that maybe on balance we are tuned in to something that paints a different overarching picture overall.

So  I thought I should do some research to see in fact how much uplifting,  inspiring good news stories I could identify.  And I was so glad I did.  Because I found lots of sites already dedicated to the reporting of good news.  I felt like my “challenge” was already being responded to – if not yet quite on network news then at least on the internet.

I was pleased to discover a host of “good news” websites – I list some of them here…  dailygood.org; amazingnews.org; sunnyskyz.org; goodnewsnetwork.org to name a few. I urge you to check them out.  Support my Queen for a Day challenge and see if we can share and support the telling of all the good news that happens in this world every moment of every day.

And if there is anyone out there in a position to start a network or perhaps just  a “reality” tv show I challenge you too!  A New Kind of News for a New Kind of Earth…

Maybe we can even call it  — “Graceful Under Fire”…. (copyright – all rights reserved 🙂