What is freedom? And why is it that important?

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I’ve always been extremely passionate about having as much personal freedom as possible. And not only in terms of the contents of my mind, but also in regards to where I am located physically, how I am able to move around in the world, financially, socially, and culturally.

Related: I can’t stop thinking about the fact that my life is meaningless

Sidenote: While writing this, I realized that I went way over my head diving into this topic. This is something to be written about in a 500+ page book by a professor in philosophy or to be discussed by the UN. 

My personal freedom background

I’ve wanted to not be financially dependent on someone else (whether that be parents, a partner, friends, or even the state). I think it stems from the fact that I feel like those who hold the money, they hold the reins. And I want to hold my own reins. And I don’t want anyone to dictate my life any more than absolutely necessary. 

This is not to say that of course, I need other people in my life, emotionally and of course, I do depend on others for all the things I get to enjoy from living in a society. Food, clothing, infrastructure, housing, medicine, and other systems.

But I have also always dreamt about being free to move around wherever I want to. Between borders, states, and groups of people. I remember when I was younger and questioning how weird it is that just because you were accidentally born in a specific geographic location on earth, you suddenly had the “right” to be in that part of the planet. While another baby, who was born perhaps just across the border from you, does not have the same right. Like? How can someone or a group of people even ever own a part of a random planetary body? You can’t! It’s just social constructions.

And it all boils down to personal freedom. But now I guess I’m writing this in order to understand myself more. What really counts as freedom to me? Should I start growing my own food as well and become an anarchist? Or should I draw some type of invisible line between what types of freedom I demand, and in what areas I choose to give up control?

Okay now when I’ve come this far in my reasoning, I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer to this question because I’m getting mind boggled by all the layers upon layers of social constructs that’s going through my head. I also get reminded by a famous quote by some philosopher that said “Freedom is an illusion”. I’m not sure if I even really want to get into that one. Is it mental suicide? Do I want to mentally suicide myself? Perhaps a little. Let’s move on and see what happens to my brain.

Requisites for personal freedom (A list)

I love lists because they make a messy world and a messy mind seem more structured. So to even begin tackling this question of “What is freedom”, I need to make a list of the things that I require in order to feel satisfied in my degree of freedom. (Oh! And there we may also have something else. “Degree of freedom”, is that a thing?)

What is needed for freedom

  • Freedom to
    • Think 
    • Speak
    • Act
    • Move my body physically 
    • Write
    • Create
    • Oh and this can move on

Alright, I’ll stop this list here. Now it’s already pretty clear how laws and human rights come into the picture here. And also the need to restrict freedom in a society. You can be allowed to act however you want to, as long as it does not hurt other people or distrust society in a harmful way. This is interesting as well, because here we are touching on the subject of democracy and dictatorship. Where do you draw the line between individual freedom and protecting a society? 

Here’s an interesting article about positive and negative liberty >

As I mentioned, I am probably way over my head going into this subject. I will stop reasoning about democracy and dictatorship here and try another avenue.

A feeling of freedom

Okay, so if writing a practical list of things I need for freedom doesn’t work, perhaps I can just move a step up in my view (to the phenomenal perspective).  

What I want is to feel free. Perhaps, I will never fully actually be free since the way I see the world and the way I exist in the world will always be governed by the social world and social knowledge of anything and everything. I am bound, and forever will be bound, by how I perceive reality. But, perhaps I can at least aim to feel free, even if I cannot ever actually be free.

So, what does freedom feel like?

  • Expansive
  • Exciting
  • Freeeeing
  • Floating
  • Unchained
  • Unstuck
  • Uninhibited
  • Loving
  • Abundant 
  • Unrestricted 
  • Spontaneous
  • Joyful
  • Happy
  • Vast
  • Huge
  • Enormous
  • Chaotic
  • Spontaneous
  • Unregulated 
  • Breaking out of the mold
  • Unorthodox
  • Out-of-the-box

Oh, it felt really good to get myself into the feeling of utter and total freedom. You know what I thought about when writing this list? BIRDS. I thought about all those birds I see all the time, flying over my head, flying around in the world, freedom and in the vastness of space that has no end. Unlike the solid ground, which is always ending and stopping. Birds are uninhibited by the harsh social constructs and systems that we humans are born into.

Is freedom to be a bird? No, I’m just kidding… But perhaps.

How to achieve this feeling of freedom

Now when I know what feeling I am after, perhaps I can make a new practical list of requirements for freedom? Let’s try.

To experience a feeling of freedom I need to be able to:

  • Live where and how I want to
  • Be able to step out of social norms and be able to not conform to social rules if I choose not to 
  • Act in mentally expansive ways, which for me means creativity. Art, writing, creating, making
  • Dedicate my life to love, giving, sharing, and enjoyment for and with others
  • Not be stuck by a specific geographic place. Which includes forced to live and work in one specific location forever (if it isn’t by choice)
  • Let go of the ego and self-identification. I need to be able to not identify myself with specific title, a country, a (temporary) social group, a (temporal) state of my physical body, clothing styles, and more
  • See the possibilities of everything (abundance), and focus on all that can be. Visions, dreams, hopes, wants, and ideals

Well! That’s actually quite a good list of what freedom means to me, I think. 

So, I do not actually require pure freedom in every sense of the word. I am just after a sense of freedom, the feeling of freedom. And in order to experience those feelings, I just need to design my life in order to fit the requirements of the list above. Easy peasy!

Why is it important to feel free?

For me, a life without freedom is no life at all. A life without freedom is not a life worth living, and it is a life that someone else owns. That’s the difference that I’d like to imagine is between me and a mechanical robot. Between me and a stone. Between me and a stupid block of concrete. In regards to my thoughts about the meaningless to my life, I guess one thing that does give my life meaning is freedom.

I think that a big part of why I want to live is because I have the freedom to explore the world, the internet, music, art, literature, thoughts, ideas, and the ability to move, do, act, and speak as I wish. Without it, I am not sure what I would want to be doing here.

This is what I love about writing. It helps you take one very hard subject, and makes you understand it. Writing structures things up, makes things real and explicit, and forces you to face your thoughts and feelings straight on. Today, writing taught me about what freedom means to me.

I think the next step for me in my journey to personal freedom is to let go even more of any old identities, even if it means to fully let go of some old relationships and contexts. Without letting go of those things fully, I won’t be able to move forward fully. So, I expect for myself a period of grief soon, but I also think it will be good for me in many ways. Needed.

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