Freedom. Free. My online dictionary defines freedom as a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any, or to any undue, restraints and restrictions. The other morning I was feeling especially grateful to be free, so I updated my Tweetdeck feed to read… True freedom is being comfortable with the courage to speak & act without concern for approval, validation or judgment from others.
Even though many of us are physically free, we still restrict what we do, say, where we go, what we try and experience, who we interact with, what we explore because of fear. Fear of the unexpected and its results, fear of failure to succeed, fear of what someone else will say, think or do because of our choice.
Last night, I watched an episode of 60 Minutes in which they honored Andy Rooney – the editorial reporter who has been discussing random items at the end of 60 Minutes since 1978. He’s 92 years old and still says and acts the exact same way I remember him speaking and acting when my parents watched 60 Minutes in the 80s. One of the things he said during the interview is that he has always been comfortable speaking his mind, saying what he thought, and acting accordingly. He doesn’t regret anything except hurting the feelings of fans when they wanted an autograph from him and he refused to sign one or wanted to be left alone in public. If he had it do differently, would he? He said no. He thinks autographs are stupid and he values his private time whether he’s in public or not. I concur with both.
Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former Chairman of Apple, passed away earlier this week. There were many shows, online articles, Tweets, and FB posts about him, his life, his legacy and his death to the point that I was overwhelmed and didn’t go on Twitter or FB for the whole day and only watched one program – an interview with his co-founding partner, Steve Wozniak, on CNN. The main point that stuck with me about that interview was when Wozniak said that Jobs was totally passionate about what he thought and was creating. He didn’t care what other people thought, he didn’t care about what was hot in the industry at the time, he didn’t care that he wasn’t going to finish college… He was completely free. I admire that more than anything else in his story. The rest of history wouldn’t have happened without his willingness to be free.
I used to work in Jamaica teaching fitness classes and training fitness instructors at the various resorts. One week, I stayed and worked at Hedonism II in Negril. If you don’t know what Hedonism is, I suggest you Google it before reading the rest of this paragraph. I consider myself pretty “free” with nudity, but at the time of this particular week at Hedonism, I wasn’t as confident with my body as I am today. I was fit and toned and tight, but I was concerned about how small and droopy my breasts were. I didn’t want to put my breast-feeding A cups on display at the nude beach where Hedo vacationers with perfect plastic Cs and Ds with beads of ocean water dripping from perfectly perky nipples were sunning and giggling with their drinks on the beach.
As I was walking tentatively past the Prude Beach to the Nude Beach, I noticed a woman in her 50s or 60s smoking, swaying to music and laughing with the bartender between the two beaches. She was topless and wearing a bright-colored sarong around her hips. She had a little poochy stomach and cellulite on her thighs, but what intrigued me the most was the fact that she only had one breast. The scars from her mastectomy on the left side boldly curved from her arm under the space where a breast used to be. I tried not to stare, but I couldn’t help it. This woman with a pooch, cellulite, one breast and scar tissue was totally free… free to dance on both the Prude and Nude beaches, smoke, laugh and express herself regardless of who was around or what they thought. Since that day and that moment, I have boldly enjoyed my nudity – all of it – whenever I can.
Since the freeing of my great-great-great-grandparents who would have been slaves in the mid to late 1800s, I have had the choice to do what I want, go where I want, say what I want, and be who I want. I’m thankful every moment of every day for my freedom in every form.