What Freedom Means To Me

I spent a whole hour yesterday trying to “google” the words freedom and independence. And lo! There is a long list of various meanings and connotations that these words have. Of course, the meaning and implication of these words is very subjective, and depends largely on the context it is used in, but personally have we ever tried to define it for ourselves? We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice and celebrate it, even advocate it, but do we really know what freedom is?

What does freedom look like? Is it the voter’s ballot, or permission for a late-night party? Is it to be free from any debt or a person walking out of prison? We must know what freedom means to us, if we are seeking it every single moment!

We often confuse the word freedom with independence. Independence, in no way, means freedom. And freedom is not dependent on independence. Since the time we have come on this planet, we are all inter-dependent on each other for our well-being. It is practically impossible to do everything ourselves, at work or at home.

The first time I thought I was “free” was back in Junior college- a decade ago! I had my vehicle, could meet my friends whenever I wanted, and could sometimes bunk classes as well! This started to look so immature when I shifted to Mumbai for my undergrad. That is when I thought I was really, in true sense, free! No permissions, no deadlines, and my own ATM card! Also, the pride of living “independently” was unparalleled. The feeling when I earned my first ever salary was supremely incomparable. When I look back now, I wonder whom was I kidding?

I have realized that the trick is find freedom in our thoughts, while ‘life’ is happening around us. Right this moment.

We often feel trapped – sometimes by destiny or circumstances, other times by some external force or our own mistakes. In most situations, we react in an auto-pilot mode. We are not even aware that we are letting our mind make a choice at that instant, besides ultimately blaming others or situations for our misery!

Freedom, for me, is being able to choose my thoughts and actions as a response to any situation thrown at me, without getting influenced by external negativity or my internal conflict! Freedom is a state of mind. We ourselves are responsible for our freedom. No body forces us to think in one way or the other; nobody can get into our mind except ourselves.

Freedom begins with us. Our actions. Our decisions. Our choice.

On this Independence Day, let us free ourselves of our past actions, bad memories, fears, conflicts, old patterns of thinking and behaving, and let go of everything that is trapped within us or has trapped us. Why should we stay in prison when the door is wide open?

Freedom is just a thought away. Let us create the thought today!

(This is my column in Deshdoot Times, Nashik – 15 Aug, 2015)

Anti-(alcohol)-climax

Saturday Night! Wohooo!
We all know what it is, right? We sort-of struggle through an entire grilling week with this meek ray of hope. It absolutely is that time of the weekend, where we make grounds for a terrible Sunday headache. Those few hours are just so magical, they are such a bliss, that we voluntarily invite the hassle of next day, in a life that is a hassle anyway.

But I really do not understand the entire hoo-ha around it!
I mean we all have that one friend who is against alcohol and suddenly starts drinking – the ceremonious welcome they get and all the cheer from others who live in a beer drum is priceless, just like a proud father watching is son all grown up! Suddenly, this friend becomes “cool” enough to “party” with, as well now!

I don’t get any combative reactions when I tell people that I do not have coffee, while sitting in a coffee-shop. Or that I do not like the taste of raw onions, while at a chaat-stall. But try telling the same people I do not have alcohol! Woah! The expression on their faces change and every single of their muscles is yelling, “WHAAAAAAT?”

And generally it follows with an hour full of trying to understand why do I have such “offensive” behavior. Yes, offensive. They see it as offence on my otherwise modern attitude, an offence of their preset judgement of me, an offence on their idea of our beer-date, an offence on my liberal and urban upbringing, an offence on me attending SulaFest, or even coming from the Wine capital of India! Some of them even start doubting their choice of friends, since a non-alcoholic, a teetotaler is on the list! This ends with them taking the responsibility on themselves of showing me the world on the other side! (PS – None of them have been successful, just FYI!)

There are a lot of judgements, a lot of labels attached to the drink that you are holding. Not that it matters to me. But writing this post in the hope that it stops mattering to everyone as well, and the jauntiness around alcohol mellows down. It signifies absolutely nothing else, but that you don’t like drinking, and I hope the subject becomes as irrelevant as a person confessing that he doesn’t like lauki-ki-sabzi.

PS- Let a few of us be. After all, we take you back home in the night! 😉