July // Freedom: What is freedom to you? How do you celebrate freedom in your daily life?
Let’s get straight to it: to me freedom is not having any limits on my life. I’m free to say what I want, do what I want, and to be what I want. The first and last are given to me constitutionally, and the second and third I have because I’m in a place in my life (and a place in life in general) where I can do and be what I want to be. Not everyone around the world is free in the most basic ways, and there are people even in our own country who are not free because they are trapped in cycles of poverty, prison, or obligation. Because I am who I am (a white girl who grew up middle class, told that I could be whatever I wanted when I grew up), I have so much freedom.
But how do I celebrate that, or at least recognize it? Well…here are a few of the ways.
When I’m sick (like today – don’t get me started on what my stomach feels like), I have the freedom to take a day off of work. Not everyone has this, but because my job has paid sick leave, I don’t have to worry about things like losing a paycheck just because I’m feeling miserable. I can stay home for the day, get myself to a place where I feel better, and then return to work without repercussions. I’m also stable enough in my job where I don’t have to worry about it not being there if I miss one day.
When I’m feeling wanderlust creeping up on me, I can take a trip. I have the freedoms that a paid-off vehicle and a decently bank account afford me in traveling my city, my state, my country and the world. If I didn’t have the money, the means and the vacation time from work, I wouldn’t be free to do this exploration, no matter how much I wanted to. Granted, I still think it’s possible for everyone to travel both nationally and internationally, but I recognize how much easier it is for me to make a decision and just do it, instead of having to wait a year or two or more to go on a big trip.
Because of who I am and what I look like – able-bodied middle-class white lady with free time in the evenings – I have the freedom to participate fully in the newest craze sweeping the nation, and yes I am talking about Pokémon Go. But stay with me. It’s a game that may be free, but requires a few things. You must have time to fully play it, and you must have the freedom of mobility – it’s not the kind of thing you can just pick up and play in bed for a few minutes. When I’ve caught a lot of pokémon, it’s because I’ve been able to devote a few hours to walking around my neighborhood. If I had to have a second job, or if I was limited in my mobility, I wouldn’t be able to play it the way it’s intended. Additionally, because I’m a white lady in a mostly white neighborhood, I can go where I want playing the game and no one will look at me askance. The game occasionally requires you to pause in your travels and linger in a spot, especially if you’re trying to catch a difficult creature or trying to take/retake a gym for your team (Mystic all the way!). With everything that’s been happening in our country recently, it’s not possible for some groups – say, black men – to participate fully in the game if they live in an area where someone might call the cops on them for lingering too long on a street corner.
And despite it not being necessarily what I want in my life long-term, because I’m currently without children of my own, and am under no legal obligation to care for someone else’s children, I have time and energy that I can devote to other things in my life. If I were to suddenly have a baby of my own tomorrow, do I think I would be able to continue writing this blog daily the way that I’ve been doing since January? Probably not, or at least not at first. Would I be able to sit down and read a book or watch TV without being disturbed? Be able to make spontaneous plans with friends for brunch or dinner? No, I wouldn’t. As much as children who are loved and wanted are a wonderful addition to anyone’s life, they’re also a limiting factor to the scope of things you are able to do as an adult without serious help.
I won’t always be as free as I am right now. Someday I hope to have kids. I’m already more conscious of how I spend my money because I’ve got a house with quirks that need fixing or upgrading. As I get older, I can do my best to stay in good physical condition, but at some point, everything will start breaking down. But for now, I can celebrate the place I am at in my life and know that this is possibly the free-est I will ever be. And I love it.
Details: This post is part of Project Reverb 2016, which sends out monthly (and sometimes daily during a month-long challenge) writing prompts for bloggers. If you’re interested in participating, sign up here.