The spider glanced at the stalk opposite where it was sitting. It further glanced at the leaf above it and also at the branch below it. It started working. Walking slowly from branch to leaf, leaf to stalk and stalk back to branch again, it spun its web. Inch by inch, step by step, the silk would be flowing with ease from its spinnerets. One of the toughest materials in the world, not many realise that spiders are capable of producing sticky and non-sticky webs. The non-sticky ones are where the spider walks on when constructing the web. First, it lays the framework, strengthening each strand thread by thread. Then it weaves around forming the familiar web-like pattern, with tight discipline using its own body as a gauge for length. When it is finished, it will remove the non-sticky bits, reinforce the middle of the web and sit on the side waiting for its prey.
It can take a few days of building, requiring much discipline, focus and dedication to produce a web usually about 20 times its own size. Only after that, does it have the freedom to sit and wait.
Many people have cited freedom as one of their values. It could be the freedom of speech, thought, movement, finance, stress, love, and many more. The idea of freedom is an enticing one. Some have fought for their freedom. Others feel it should be an entitlement. No one likes being restricted or at least, being told they are being restricted. How possible is true freedom? What is involved in attaining real freedom?
Imagine an Olympic gymnast being top of her game. Her movements are graceful and purposeful. She has the freedom to express herself in any way she desires, performing the tumbles, double pikes and splits that make most people look in admiration, almost like poetry in motion. To be able to obtain that sort of freedom of movement, years of disciplined training and conditioning have been taken by her. Hours and hours of hard, sweaty training filled with obstacles and years of disciplined eating and living habits have been undertaken to deliver that few minutes of seemingly effortless freedom to manipulate her body in such a way that it inspires others.
What about financial freedom? Is there actually such a thing? Are the financial rich totally financially free? Are they able to sit around and sip cocktails all day? With great wealth, they are also laden with great problems that come with great wealth. More importantly, they have put in a lot of disciplined, focused work over time to be able to achieve their level of wealth. It certainly did not come easy.
Many like to think that they would like the freedom of thought, the ability to think whatever they want. They can and they should. However, understand that thoughts are things and thoughts manifested in your mind will surely be expressed somehow in some part of your life. With the rise in the level of stress these days (social media does not help), are you sure you want to have complete freedom of thought? Would all the thoughts you have empower or hinder you from achieving your dreams and goals or simply, allow self-expression? You may find that it is only those with disciplined thoughts that truly have the freedom to think whatever they want as it empowers them and therefore sustainable and more enriching.
Freedom of love allows you to love whoever you want. However, to deepen the level of love and understanding of whoever you love requires you to stay disciplined and learn more about the other party. It takes work, commitment, trust and certainly, effort to do so.
The reality is that freedom is going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. People love to have freedom, but few people like its work to make it happen. Ironically, freedom is not free.
However, it is worth working and fighting for. It is worth putting in the work, the effort, the sweat, and experiencing the pain involved. The harder it is, the less ‘free’ you are when doing so, and the sweeter the taste of freedom is when you achieve it. It is then you will realise that you are no more free than when you started. To maintain that freedom, you have to work on your body, finance and yourself more than ever and you will love it. Amusingly, even though you are no more free than before, you will experience a freedom you have never felt, the freedom to be yourself.
The reality is that the only freedom that you really wanted and desire is the freedom of self-expression, the ability to be yourself. Only when you know what story you would like to live in your life, are you able to strive towards it. This is how the penniless man can be happy and ‘free’ if he is exhibiting himself and living the life he chooses and why the financially rich person may not have the freedom he desires despite his wealth.
So rather than seeking freedom, seek your inner character instead. What do you actually want? What are your values? How do you want to feel? What gives you the most joy? What do you think is your place in this world? It can take some time to answer all these questions. It will take even longer if you do not start. Once you have the answers (may take a lot of adjusting along the way as your first few answers may not be right!), work your butt off to become the person you want to be and in doing so, you will gain an insight on your freedom that you have never seen before. Only then, you can truly be free the way you envision it to be. It is hard to be free if you do not know what you want to be free from.
To be free to sit on the side waiting for food to fall into its web, the spider had to put in days of disciplined web-building and repairing. What disciplined action do you have to put in to obtain your freedom?
‘To have extreme freedom, extreme discipline is required.’ – Anon