The illusion of freedom

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""No one is ever completely free, in the true sense of the word. Call me a pessimist if you will, but it seems to me that life always leaves us wanting. Or maybe it is we ourselves who keep wanting, and thus try to shape our lives to satisfy all our wants. I’ve heard many a regret about how something is planned one way and how it comes out another way.

A lot of us spend our lives wanting to be someone else, somewhere else. The thought runs through our minds, "If only I had _____, I would be happier". This is the illusion of freedom. We wrongly think that if we have something we desire but do not really need, we will be liberated from our current state of affairs and be relatively less tied up and more free to do the things we want. It is true that if we get what want, our perception of things will be a different ball game altogether. But there is no deciding when and how to stop. One thing leads you wanting another, and a third, and a fourth, and so on.

It is easy to envision a lifetime spent in the pursuit of this elusive material happiness. It is easy to want to escape reality and go to a life where everything is taken care of. It is easy to dream of the ultimate freedom to make decisions, a state where no one controls what you do and how you do it. But, most of all, it is easy to read and write words like mine without actually implementing them.

Strange though it may sound, I have spent a majority of my life thus far wanting to grow older. When I was ten, nothing else mattered to me except turning thirteen. And when I turned thirteen (and thought I would be on the top of the world), I waited to be sixteen. When I was sixteen within no time at all, I realized how fast time had gone by. And then I did not want to grow older that fast any longer. Suddenly, the transition from sixteen to eighteen does not seem as attractive as the transition from thirteen to sixteen did.

There are so many like me, I’m sure, who spend their lives waiting for that "big moment". So many who want some excitement in an otherwise humdrum routine, and wait their whole lives for that excitement to be handed to them on a plate, sometimes supposing that it will come through a promotion at work or a transfer to another place.
It is all right to dream. The only sad part about this whole process is that when waiting for something else to happen, you miss the beauty of what happens right in front of you. The search for that storybook-perfect moment can take a lifetime, during which you will not fully realize the importance of the less-than-perfect-but-nonetheless-valuable moments in defining you as a person.

The grass is always greener on the other side, to use a common clich?. Ironically, it is only when one views the other side does realization dawn, and one begins to feel that the once-green grass is just the same as the grass was anywhere else. What matters is the way you look at it.

There is so much to say on this matter when I reflect on my own life. When I am at school, I think of how hectic it is and want to have fun. I long for holidays. Then when the holidays come, I realize that it is not fun to be absolutely idle and have nothing to do, and long for school again. After a long period of trial and error, though, I have learned to gratefully accept holidays when they come along, and make the most of them, for who knows when I will get long breaks again!

The freedom that we all long for is like a mirage, like a non-existent pool of water in the desert. When people are dissatisfied and long for more in their lives, then freedom has a clear meaning. But when they work towards that freedom long and hard enough, and eventually come to accept it, they realize that it has no meaning any longer. What they got is what they thought they wanted and not what they actually wanted.

The best solution to this would be to accept your lot in life and not think beyond where you are. It is good to have ambition, but not too much. Most of all, it is important to stop and appreciate little things along the journey of life, and not look for the destination, for it is perhaps the little things that can alter the nature of the destination, and not the larger picture that we always suppose will.

Kimberly Fernandes, Qatar

Author: Kimberly Fernandes- Qatar

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