Have you felt lately as though you keep on moving from one task to the next, from one place to another as if chased by your own shadow? It is as if we are all gripped by a fear of being caught standing still. We plan our year before it even starts and we project into our future leaving very little room for the unexpected. Our lives are preplanned and dictated in our phones that link to all our other devices that we allow to remind us that we are not free but bound inside our own self created prisons.
It’s a funny thing, time. I remember as a child not minding time at all; being and living in the moment; existing in a plane where time had no say in my business. Then slowly things begin to change. Time would no longer allow itself to be ignored. It wants to assert its managerial role in the affairs of my human existence. Freedom is replaced by deadlines, strict appointments and duties to be fulfilled on ‘time’. But little does time know that I remember what it was like to be free, and that I can escape to that place where I kept my childhood alive and well. Don’t tell time…
One of the wonderful phenomena to watch in Shanghai parks and on its riverside in the early morning, is the congregation of retired men sending their well cared for and brilliantly crafted kites high into the city sky. They do this for long hours watching the extensions of their souls soar into worlds unknown, higher and higher above the noise of the city where all is calm and harmonious, into a state of freedom where they too one day wish to be…
You always hear stories of people on their deathbeds wishing they had said this or that to a loved one, wished they had expressed an emotion to someone that they know they should have, and wished that they would be allowed a second chance to say what they wanted to say but had no chance to. We design our lives in a way that creates valid excuses for our silence. We trade comfort and avoidance for confrontations and human expression. Where is the freedom in that?
To dance when you are so moved, to sing when you are so driven, to laugh when you are tickled, to scream if passion compels you, is to be truly free…
Don’t you love it when you find yourself so free in your mind to just break into a dance in the middle of a crowded park simply because you ‘feel’ it? Don’t you wish we could alway be reactive like children without the weight of inhibition and the shackles of self enforced rules of behavior?
photo~ man dancing in central park
If you had to fly almost all day to reach your holiday destination, then drive in a bus for more than 2 hours, followed by a rough ferry ride and finally climb in a rickshaw to reach your hotel, what would be the first thing you think of doing upon arrival?
Normally adults would want to check in, shower, have a drink, sit by the pool, relax…
Not children. Children drop everything and just run to the sea ignoring the tiredness, the late hour and the complaints of adults. They discard their shoes, dig their heels and hands in the sand and splash in the water giggling joyfully. The funny thing is that we build so many things as adults upon ourselves that forbid us from being so naturally responsive and free. Children are just doing the most appropriate thing in response to meeting the sea after such a long journey.
One of the most precious gifts we humans receive upon our birth is the gift of choice and free will…
We have the faculties that allow us to think, evaluate, compare, investigate, evaluate and then based upon our findings make an informed decision. It is a the first and most important principle for our freedom.
But when this gift is stolen, taken away, then we are forced to live in oppression and to become the involuntary players in the games of others.
This boy was destined to become a player in a game of war, not by choice, he is far too young and far too vulnerable to make his way towards his freedom. He is a prisoner in one ugly scheme and it has drawn the old man out of the little boy.
And the game is till being played…
“May the odds be in his favor”… the quote that still haunts me from the recent movie “the hunger games”
I was often asked after leaving Lebanon for good: “if you love it so much, why did you leave it?”, “if it is that beautiful why aren’t you there?”
But when I remember what drove me out, it was not really the war, not the seeking of adventure, not my love for travel, no, it was something much simpler than that.
I could never be ‘me’ in my home country. It is a society that allows you to speak as long as what you say conforms to popular opinion. It lets you do as long as you do what is politically correct. What drove me out was my search for truth and my strong longing to be myself, to be true to who I am and to find out who I was. And who can do that except under the wings of freedom? How can you find yourself if you are imprisoned in dogma?
And still, years later, if you ask me where I wish to grow old, I would answer: ” Lebanon, where else?”
City life is fast, unrelenting, and always moving. At all time, you are pushed and shoved into different directions with the moving crowd, unless you are able to move against the rushing current. How do you do something that counts in a sea of humanity? How do you swim against the stream? How do you find your freedom in a world of old doctrines and a society of rigid opinions?
photo taken: a cross road and moving taxi in central Hong Kong by night