Embedded in the human condition is an aspiration and longing for freedom... But, what does that mean exactly and... How do you go about finding it?
The truth is that freedom is defined differently by everyone, therefore the answers to both of those questions vary from person to person. After hours of conversations I’ve had with others, the majority agrees that it has something to do with finding and doing what makes you feel most alive. Pretty obvious, right? Where things get more complicated, and more interesting, is when you ask for deeper insight from the individual. I’ve found that many people have a hard time elaborating on the topic and during those heartfelt conversations, I’ve come to realize one thing time and time again...
Most of us are out in the world prioritizing the opinions of others over our own and in doing so, we lose sight of who we are and who we want to become.
“Don’t compromise yourself, you’re all you’ve got.” -Janis Joplin
We start doing this from an early age as we pick up on the fact that we get positive attention by conforming to or impressing the people that surround us on a regular basis. Those of us who start to rely on that attention typically start taking on the opinions of those people as our own, and end up walking down a path that was more so created for them instead of us. My younger self was constantly walking the tightrope between what I really wanted and what others seemed to want for me and I struggled for years to assert myself.
Around age 12, my musical career was practically being laid out before me. A career in classical music that is, complete with invitations to perform at Carnegie Hall and opportunities to travel the United States as a professional concert singer. Maybe even the world eventually, if only I would dedicate myself to studying my predecessors, music theory, and performance art in efforts to become a singer of the opera. One problem- I didn’t like classical music.
You see, as a child I was basically raised in the ocean, and my dad and I would spend our days out at sea fishing, blasting our music as loud as we could stand. Artists like Anthony Bocelli and Bach just didn’t fit the bill. I was wildin’ out to The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Marley for years on end drenched in sun, salt, and fish blood. A few years later when I was introduced to my future step-dad, he told me of his love for the blues, and the first time I laid my eyes on his shiny Strat and heard him affirm my feelings for life through that glorious sound, it was over. I wanted all of that, not a career as an opera singer.
“Better to die fighting for freedom then be a prisoner all the days of your life.” - Bob Marley
Problems slowly started making their way into my life as I realized it was being constructed by my superiors, and I began to feel imprisoned by the rules and regulations in which they thought I should live by. I was both pissed off and seriously confused. Fast-forward past years of posing as a young, astute musician to the year I obtained my license and I was chucking everything into the fuck it bucket. I was a highly-conflicted, stubborn and rebellious teen whose mission in life was to skip school as much as possible to maximize time spent at the beach playing my guitar.
After bullshitting my way out of rehearsals I’d be sitting on the trunk of my car parked on top of the sand at New Smyrna Beach. The time would be 6 in the morning, the sun would be rising, and I’d be plugging my Mexican Strat into the dingy travel amp I inherited from my stepdad. From there I’d proceed to lose myself in simple, punchy surf-rock jams I’d spend hours on end writing and playing. (You can find some tasty jams and more current revelations inspired by the ocean here.)
When I would play at the beach it was nothing complicated and there were no crazy instructors screaming in my face. It was just me, the ocean, and my music and I felt completely and totally alive. It was there that I started to stray further and further away from the path that was beaten before me, and to this day I never look back on it and wonder "what if".
“Tame birds sing of freedom. Wild birds fly.” -John Lennon
Liberation is discovered when you make the decision to change course for the sake of yourself. It’s an arduous journey- full of twists and turns, inclines and declines, and guess what? It’s so damn scary because there’s no guidebook written for that path.
That’s also what makes it so exciting.
Examine the life you’ve been living- how much of what you’ve done has been for other people and how much of it has been done for yourself? If you are constantly longing for freedom, my guess is that you may have spent a solid amount of time prioritizing others over yourself. Just so you know, it’s never too late to take a hard left.
Let this serve as a reminder that this is your life, and at the end of the day, it’s your birthright to live it however you see fit whether that makes sense to others or not. Go and do the things that make you feel most alive… Go and find your freedom.
by Alexa Francisco
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