I’ve been thinking about freedom. Since I’m having a hard time finding a workable definition, I decided to take an informal survey.
My overweight friend Fran considers caloric freedom the ultimate emancipation. Her idea of euphoria is to consume whatever she wants while reaching her ideal weight. But would Fran change her mind if she met skinny Susan, who despite her small size wears a steadfast expression of anxiety?
My accountant, Anthony, sees freedom as being free from all monetary limitations. Imagine acquiring enough wealth to spend as much as you want on whatever you want. It sounds intoxicating, but gossip tabloids, packed with the tragic lives of the rich and famous, tell a different story.
My favorite poet, Pierre, a child of the free-loving ’60s, sees freedom as being exempt from external authority. But can we truly say then that anyone is totally free—and would we even want to be free from authoritative guidelines in areas like health, safety or wellbeing?
Linda, my literal librarian, defines freedom as free of physical restraints or control. But though most of us aren’t physically confined, how many of us are emotionally or spiritually limited, controlled by others’ expectations, enslaved by our past experiences or restricted by our present mindset?
So, what does freedom mean to you? Do you know anyone who is absolutely “free”?
None of us can control our life’s circumstances. Life throws us hardship and hurt, challenges and sadness. But perhaps freedom means attaining autonomy over our perspective.
We can choose to see our reality as imprisoning or liberating, as painful or full of potential, as overwhelming or as growth-oriented.
We can choose to view our world as a corporeal sphere filled with selfish people whose limited lives are random and happenstance. Or we can strive to see souls purposefully tending G-d’s garden, every moment being a catalyst for growth, bringing us to a better reality.
Passover is the season of freedom. It is that time of year when we can reach beyond our limitations and discover a new way to view our world, ourselves and others—through an infinitely richer and more meaningful lens.
So, in this season of liberation, here’s to finding and choosing our personal freedom.
Because, if you ask me, perspective is the key to liberation.
P.S.: This week, TJW is jam-packed with an amazing Passover assortment for every Jewish woman! If you like thoughtful reads, try Mirrors and The True Meaning of Freedom. For hilarious humor, there’s Welcome to Spaceship Passover and Sascha and the Kremels. Shmurah Matzah: An Acquired Taste is a story of personal growth, and Mother of Many is a fantastic commentary on the Haggadah, by and for women. Enjoy! And keep those comments coming!