Freedom is an interesting thing. I grew up in the United States of America, Land of the Free. I took it for granted that I had freedom in that glorious country of my birth. Then I left to travel the world and discovered freedom is not so simple as a happenstance of birth location. Freedom is never granted, it must be chosen. Without that conscious choice freedom can all too easily be traded away with the best of intentions.
None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
It is such an easy trap I fell into, believing I had freedom as I coasted through life. It was so very easy to look at my comfortable life of privilege and say to myself, “see the bountiful fruit of this freedom I have been born to!” I owned a house and a nice car, I had a career with a great income and I lived in a city many would liken to a bit of paradise.
Then I walked away from all of that to travel the world. Some years ago now I was standing at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin when I realized I am free. Unequivocally and irrefutably free. I fought for this freedom; I sacrificed for it and I bear its burden with pride. That I fought those battles and achieved this freedom more by accident than by design only makes it all the more precious to me.
Responsibility is the price of freedom.
I feel the burden of that freedom every day, paid for in the currency of responsibility. Responsibility for my actions, for my choices, for my health, for my finances, for my safety, and more. Those burdens at times feel too much to bear and it is on those days I yearn for the naïveté of those days when I simply assumed I had freedom granted me at birth. Yet even as I have those thoughts I realize the cost. Freedom is far too precious to me to be traded away on such whims. If responsibility is the cost of that freedom, so be it. I pay that cost gladly.
Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.
As I look back I find it interesting how simple it was, that journey to freedom. Don’t misunderstand, it was not easy yet it was so very simple. History is rife with freedom paid for in the currency of blood and death. I give thanks to those who chose freedom at such a high cost that I am now able to choose my freedom at a far lower cost. For it is a choice. A choice I could only make for myself. It is a choice to be free and to accept the price of that freedom.
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Very nice post! Pretty sure I’ve never seen that Goethe quote before:
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
And I would add: “…but in reality live in prisons of their own construction.”
Glad to see you’re back on the road and blogging again. Welcome back.
I remember when we both worked for the same company in Sunnyvale 6 years ago. We’ve both covered many miles since that day in June 2011 when you hopped on your motorcycle and headed North to Alaska…er Canada! I’m up to 106 countries now, but I cheat and go by plane and ship. What’s your position report? Where to next? Looking forward to hearing from you.
What a different life that was when we worked together! One day we will have to try and meet up to share stories. I am in Colombia just now …. but for more details look for a new post coming soon with reflections on six years of travel. 🙂