So far, I have written about freedom, equanimity, talking and world version. But before you are even ready to accept that the day to day reality is incomplete and that there might be something attainable beyond the nine to five, the career and the mortgage, you have to at least stir in the slumber of routine. It is necessary to sense dissatisfaction, and a level of dissatisfaction that does not pass after a good old moan and a whinge. I am pretty sure that dissatisfaction is planetary and also relative. Many put up with their lot with more than a little moaning, life is unfair and that is that. It takes something to go beyond a stirring and into some kind of action. Having had enough is a common sentiment, which after a rant and a rage, is partially forgotten until the next time.
Western society likes to think of itself as free and there are indeed material freedoms. These freedoms to congregate and express are fine in principle and allowed to a degree. One can choose from a selection of allowed life templates and eke a life with these. If the selection errs from the consensual norm, woe betide. But we do have hard won material freedoms, they are relative and statutory. They only go so far, and this is perhaps understandable for someone has to govern. Of late state intervention has increased, these freedoms are eroded by legislature and in the name of practicality and safety. Too much licence can cause chaos. Not everyone is sufficiently responsible to have too much material freedom. But although these “political” freedoms are; freedom of thinking is much less common. People are not, in this context, free to think and be. What constrains them are their fellow men. They through conditions of what should be, select only those templates for life and manner of thinking which complies with the average, the mean. Only when there is recognised genius is significant errancy from norm “permitted”. Although we may profess that we are free, actually we are not. We are constrained and confined by societal consensus. This creates a world version which is of a concrete and fixed nature. To question this is heresy. And history tells much on the fate of the heretic and the apostate. Whilst legislature may allow, society does not. In this respect we are kidding ourselves about freedom. It sounds nice, but in reality, it is more than partially absent. To see this with clarity is to go one step beyond moaning and whinging and towards some kind of action. If one is “happy” grudgingly or otherwise to accept the consensual societal world version, then there is no need to wake up. If with every fibre of your being you find this limiting, then wake up you must.
To move even partially beyond the slumber and the common dream is not easy. For it tempts one back with cosy pillows, nice pay cheques and foreign holidays. It draws one into the electronic media, the entertainment, the societal opium, the new world Sauvignon Blanc and the thumbs ups of social media. It takes some courage to pull away from the cloying and to go cold turkey from the common dream. In fact, it is not possible to go cold turkey. One has to slowly ease oneself out of constraint and towards freedom.
That urge to wake up to the lack of freedom may not last long, the snooze button on the alarm clock beckons. But once one has had such an urge it is never again completely forgotten, suppressed maybe, but gone altogether, no. Despite the outward projections shared in the coffee house, the plastic Instagram posts and over the dinner table; I see a quiet desperation and lack of direction. Life for many has no purpose and it is very much a going through the motions. Sure, people put on a brave face but there are cracks in the façade. If we are forever photoshopping the narrative of our lives, who are we kidding? Who buys it? If we have fake news, do we not also have fake lives?
A first step to waking up is very simple. It is called being honest. Totally radical I know but unless you are honest about where you are in life and how you feel about it, nothing is ever going to change. And despite the efforts of Hollywood and Walt Disney it is highly unlikely that you will ever meet a fairy godmother with a magic wand. If you want to wake up, then it is something that you must do by yourself and for yourself.
In this respect doing the same things over and over again, and expecting different results is insanity as defined by Einstein. Yet is this not, with minor variation, what most of us do?
If it is your fate to wake up, at least a little, then it is best to get on with it. Why else would you be reading this? Should you be entirely content in the quiet desperation you would not be here today, reading. Many need to gird their loins so to speak, to try to understand freedom from a theoretical or abstract perspective. What would it look like? What are the guarantees? Can I get my money back if I don’t like it? Even thinking about it is a good thing but it is not the same as doing it.
In this respect there are plenty of ways of approach, some tried and tested. It starts with doing something different. This is the only way to start to break the loop.
If you are sensing an urge to throw back the cosy duvet of social consensus, then the time to act is now or around now. There may be entire other worlds, different perceptions and an expansion of consciousness awaiting. If the routine however has you, then it will not let go all on its own.
Outside the mainstream, the societal consensus world version, there is a great wealth of written knowledge. It is of varying quality. This literature can help to kick start the walk towards freedom and equanimity. The key to this is honesty. Note that honesty differs markedly from coruscating self-criticism, a form of prevalent negativity in our time. Honesty is objective and balanced, this is not easy of achievement early on. For there is something about the outward photoshopping of life which creates a negative inner counterpoise. Living a lie is very hard work, yet in one way or another many do just this. In façade world one must ever appear more shiny. In our heady times of spin and public relations it is pretty difficult to recognise truth even should it slap you in the face with a wet fish. Getting toward honesty is a step towards being real. It peels back the comforting duvet of illusion and if you are persistent, you can inhale deeply of the fresh dawn air.