Will We Ever Be Free?

In the last few years, I’ve had a few vocational excursions into freelance-land. Captivated by the idea of working from my kitchen table or local haunt, I clung to the allure of ultimate freedom.

Though freelancing has its definite perks, there was a clear disparity between my expectations of the freedom it would provide, and, more pertinently, the limitations it would consign me.

While I was free to work from wherever, with whoever, and however I wanted to – the irregular paychecks, the 24/7 nature of being a freelancer, and the technological limitations of my laptop were all limitations that I hadn’t had in my previous FTE roles.

This brought me to question the notion of ultimate freedom that we in the West so often idealise.

Our belief that we will be ultimately free, or that ultimate freedom is something to continually work towards is to denounce the reality of our world and the nature of its character. Freedom cannot operate without constraint, and our world cannot exist without both.

If we were free from everything, there would be nothing to be anyone in. If we weren’t free from anything, we wouldn’t have choice or volition – a core part of our existence.

Some things are just the way that they are, and impose certain liberties and constraints onto us by virtue of their characteristics, as well as our own. Our freedom is thus defined by what we choose to do with these constraints in mind.

As philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre puts it,

”Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you.”

My eyes are brown, I need air, I can’t fly, I am unable (without unending study, but mostly miracles) to lecture mathematics, I can’t afford Ferraris to match the colour of my daily sock choice, and as much as I’d like to live on coffee – my body would literally shut down if I was to do so.

However, I am free to wear contacts, to breathe, to travel by aeroplane, to study mathematics, to pay off my car loan, and to choose to have a balanced diet.

With this in mind, here are a few thoughts:

We must seek to understand the true nature of things

By understanding what something or someone is, to the best of your knowledge, you understand the freedoms and constraints that come with engaging with that ‘other’, and you will understand its existence in light of the rest of the world. I understand that my body has a limited breathing capacity, and water doesn’t give me any opportunities to breath when I am under it. While I’m free from the heat of summer by jumping into it, I’m not free from being able to breathe whenever I want while submerged.

Everything is a tradeoff

Utilising a freedom to do one thing, is also placing restrictions on other options that you could have otherwise chosen. Time is a great example of this. By spending time one way, you are choosing to not spend time another way.  Be conscious of this.

Empower the freedom of others

There will always be people who are better than you at certain things, and are free to operate on intellectual and practical standards of excellence that we are often not. Identify your limitations, and put people around you that not only can do the things you can’t, but empower them to do so. Champion them and don’t stop telling them how valuable they are.

What do you think? What kinds of freedoms and limitations do you have?

This blog was written by Jackson Van Maanen. Jackson is our Digital Marketing, Client Services & Creative consultant in Brisbane, and is a habitual conversationalist / armchair philosopher. He’s also a dab hand on the table-tennis table!

Feel free to post a comment below if you have any thoughts you’d like to share. You can also check out Jackson’s bio page on our website for his latest on social media and live jobs.

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