Reflections on Freedom

Since the last day of sixthform on March 18th, I’ve been at home.The various stages of lockdown, in terms of my mental state and activities that I’ve busied myself with, have added variety to what could have become a monotonous existence. Waking up in the same bedroom, traversing the same rooms of the house the same parks and consuming the same food weren’t as boring as I would have expected. I think this is largely because of my immersion in reading, music and language learning- the constants of my lock down experience. Through these pursuits I enter a sort of escapist mode of being for a good few hours, then before I know it the sun has set( also I’e been particularly aware of the sun during the day). Travelling through cultural exposure, traversing new imaginative and emotional landscapes, has provided my ‘freedom’ whilst being being in the house for so long. Recently as lockdown has eased I’ve ventured further than my local park ( I think I’ve now covered every inch of its grounds… at least once), scoping out London by getting purposefully lost ( or as lost as you can get with the safety net of google maps) on my bike. Access to the unknown, the ability to make mistakes – facets of freedom.

In my last year of school a friend and I, he a politics student and I an idealist, had a series of very interesting conversations about the state of the world. The topic of freedom came up in one of these to and fros, as he divulged that he was in the process of understanding varying positions on the concepts of freedom. Though we largely spoke of economic freedom, my interest lay in the idea of personal freedom. During my research thus far in lockdown I’ve been fermenting my own position on the idea of freedom. The more I reflect on it personal freedom isn’t individualized. I think a ‘free’ person is part of a cohesive community, part of a pack that look after you and you look after them. Being bound by social ties which aren’t suffocating. A lonely existence isn’t a free one. To live amongst comrades, regardless of material conditions or hardships one faces, that is freedom.

I’m currently reading War Doctor, the memoirs of surgeon David Nott. He has traveled the world, worked in extremely dangerous places, and had more than his fair share of close shaves with death. He does this to save lives and be of use, also he notes to get a sadist adrenaline rush that accompanies embarking on such missions. Freedom is that hankering after the adrenaline rush. Depression whereby this force is deadened, frightens me. My capacity to feel is so important to me, and it seems everyday in the way our society is constructed that optimism and joy is quashed. It’s a battle to keep on feeling- to be free.

Nott also reflects on his childhood, his busy thus mentally absentee parents who loved him very much but could do nothing to quash his feelings of loneliness and isolation. This experience he remarks is part of prompted him to run into warzones and help those who had also been left alone. It was a way of coming full circle in ones life. A completion. How much of what we do is escapist, evading the roots of our existences, is it possible to draw a complete circle as Nott has done in this case? We could die tomorrow and no one would know. Our lives would end, our beds left the same as we had left them in the morning then the world keeps spinning. Should we live fearing death? Perhaps yes to allow us to keep running doing the next thing that enhance and deepen our lived experience, instead of waiting around for the ‘best’ opportunity or the next mortgage payment to come around. What have we got to lose?

Anyway, through circumvention I’ve come the conclusion that now is the time for me to move on, and keep moving – only stopping to take in the view. Life is to short, freedom is far to precious to squander it on institutions, certain people and copious amounts of housework. Lockdown has resulted in a mini circle of completion- I’m ready to leave my home and travel further afield than ever before.

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