The question: Do you actually feel free? Do you actually feel independent?
I believe that freedom comes from knowing that you are at home in your body, knowing the difference between the should, could and would voices in your head, and having compassion for yourself as a human “animal.”
What I mean by the above statements is that even though we are living in an economic upturn, with amazing opportunities, and the constant onslaught of scientific advice about how to be healthy and live our best lives, we still are struggling. It is an incredibly complicated question without an answer. It is the same pondering that has gone on since ancient times: “what is a just life?”
Or more precisely, “what is my just life?” There is an interesting opinion piece in The New York Times by David Brooks about “The Moral Bucket List” he states, “It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love? We all know that the eulogy virtues are more important than the résumé ones. But our culture and our educational systems spend more time teaching the skills and strategies you need for career success than the qualities you need to radiate that sort of inner light. Many of us are clearer on how to build an external career than on how to build inner character.
But if you live for external achievement, years pass and the deepest parts of you go unexplored and unstructured. You lack a moral vocabulary. It is easy to slip into a self-satisfied moral mediocrity. You grade yourself on a forgiving curve. You figure as long as you are not obviously hurting anybody and people seem to like you, you must be O.K. But you live with an unconscious boredom, separated from the deepest meaning of life and the highest moral joys. Gradually, a humiliating gap opens between your actual self and your desired self, between you and those incandescent souls you sometimes meet.”
He is repeating and expanding on the same knowledge that has been around for ages – from the time of Socrates and Plato – and it is a good reminder. We are spirit and flesh, mind and body, desire and discipline; those are the daily considerations of being alive.