A journey that lasts a lifetime (part two)
First a quick story:
One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose of teaching his son to appreciate the freedom they have. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family. On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”
” It was great, Dad.”
“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
“Oh yeah,” said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have expensive lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to run on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me what true freedom is.”
This story reminds me of the time that Havana invited two friends from her 1st grade class to come over after school.
We were living in a very beautiful place in the country. All around us were multi-colored, rolling hills. Our little, 250-square foot wood cabin was situated on the grounds of a very nice restaurant with two pools and a private playground. Havana and her friends did their homework on the floor squeezed between the fridge and the couch, had a snack on the grass, and then played outside all afternoon long. The next day, I met one of the mothers at school. She thanked me and said that her son, Giulio, had an amazing time and couldn’t stop talking about our home: “They live in the country and have tons of space to play and they have a big playground and 2 huge pools!” Obviously, Giulio’s version included only the important stuff. He left out the fact that our kitchen was practically non-existent, that Kenia and Havana slept together in a single bed because there is no space for a second one, that they had very few toys (again, no space) and no television, or that we had our dining table outside on the front porch (once again, no space)!
Wouldn’t it be nice to be always capable of seeing through the courageous eyes of a small child?! They see what is real, and not what they are taught to see, or what studies prove, or what “they” say. They see the truth and the wonder of it all.
They see everything in the present, instantly forgetting the past and never thinking about the future. Baby steps is all about this… breaking through the fear and seeing everything with new eyes and with un-blurred vision. It is about deprogramming ourselves, and not believing everything we have been taught, everything studies claim, or everything we hear from whoever “they” are. It is about not following what everyone else is doing and instead using your beginner’s mind*, or as I call it prisoner mentality, to do it fearlessly. It is about figuring it out your own way. Choosing to re-own your freedom is the first step. Throwing away the fear is the next…
WE DON’T NEED TO FREE OUR MINDS
WE NEED TO FREE OURSELVES FROM OUR MINDS
Our choices are scary to me at times. It takes effort and energy. It is a scary choice to make for ourselves, let alone for our kids. Nobody seeks suffering. Nobody wants their kids to suffer. The memory of wanting to be an accepted kid and then an accepted teenager is still fresh in my mind. I sometimes doubt not offering them a normal home, all the modern technology that other kids have, the dog (and a variety of other animals) that they desperately ask for over and over again. Sometimes it feels like we don’t even have a language – we go back and forth between all three often mixing words from each language in a single sentence.
Three or four years ago, the girls had fallen asleep in the car while we were returning home from a party late one evening. Andrea took Kenia in his arms from the backseat and said to her, “Continue sleeping honey, I will bring you to bed”. Kenia, in her half asleep voice, asked, “which one, daddy?”.
At times I question myself… Is it all just too confusing, too instable for them? Are we offering them enough of the other stuff to compensate for all the things they don’t have? We focus on adaptability, but are they receiving messages of instability instead? In the end, is our freed lifestyle instilling in them fear or fearlessness?
But, when I stop, breathe, observe, ask and listen… the doubting ends.
I remember that staying imprisoned is scarier than freedom. It takes more courage to remain in a situation of status quo and “getting by” or “ just so, so”. Teaching my kids to be the same as everyone else is scarier than taking the risk that they may suffer at times for our choices. I remember that different is a good thing! I remember that suffering is a fundamental part of a true existence. It teaches us. It is through the suffering that we are able to grow more resistant. And, when you don’t accept suffering in your life – when you try to avoid it at all costs, it is because of fear, the fear to truly live.
A couple of years ago, I wrote this entry in my journal:
My life has changed so much in these past years. I have changed. It is a conscious choice and a continuous learning experience. But, it isn’t always easy. Habits, friends, food, ways to entertain myself – they have all changed. At times, I have felt as if I was throwing away a pair of my favorite jeans, the only pair I really felt comfortable and myself in. Painful and difficult, but necessary once my vision was no longer blurred from past beliefs – they no longer fit me or my lifestyle, and no matter how many times I tried to patch them up, they always remained way too old and full of holes.
It is often this fear of change that prevents us from going after our freedom and taking the baby steps necessary to regain that lost carefreeness, that child’s or beginner’s mind. Most people fear change because they relate change to suffering: with change comes challenge, with challenge comes suffering. When you start doubting the path you are on, change is inevitable -goals change, interests and passions change, relationships change…
But as Deepak Chopra tells us to become a seeker, you don’t have to walk away and exist as an outsider from society: you aren’t required to turn your back on everything you know, you aren’t required to turn you back on those who love you…
What you truly love will always remain a part of you. And, those who truly love you may not be on the same path, but are without judgement. Those who really care about you won’t abandon you for trying to improve your life. The relationships that are fragile will dissolve. The relationships that are strong will become even stronger.
To feel the delectable taste of freedom you don’t have to conquer the chaos around you either, you merely need to see through it one baby step at a time. You need to change the way you experience the material world that is keeping you stuck and holding you so tightly. You need to find a way to release yourself. As we saw in Jerry’s story (see part one), freedom is an attitude. It is a choice. It is a vision. True there can be suffering, but the amount of pleasure is so much more. Once you feel it and allow it to penetrate inwards, no one and nothing can prevent you from making it a part of your daily routine.
And, when you get off track something usually pops up to remind you to:
One baby step at a time…
Our first baby step of action was to figure out a way to work less and gradually remove ourselves from the System. Andrea started to write (his objective in life has never been about making “the money”, but whoever writes for a living knows that unless you reach a certain level, you aren’t gonna support a family of 4), we sold our small business, we sold two new cars and replaced it with a used one (now that we didn’t work outside of the house we didn’t need them anymore), and then we bought a camper and sold our house. But, most importantly we started to choose for ourselves how we wanted to spend our time and money. We voluntarily and happily reduced our basic expenses. We got past the fear, downsized our life and started to upsize our freed time! It all took form and spiraled from there.
To be continued….
Thanks for joining us in this journey towards FREEDOM… be fearless and enjoy the escape!
Follow this blog to read more about “Baby Steps to Freedom part three: DETOURS, POTHOLES & Impermanence”.
This post was written without stress and without stealing any of my freed time!
*Having a beginner’s mind means having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and freedom from preconceptions when approaching anything. Beginner’s mind is actually the space where the mind does not know what to do. It is that wonderful state that we had as children when you are sure of nothing, yet completely fearless and completely available to the moment.