We are stuck in the scheme of wanting status, money, and more and more things Image Credit: Unsplash

‘Acres of land, Ashish!’, ‘Acres of land, tens of properties’, my friend swelled as he ranted about his limitation to move abroad. ‘I know my life is a bit dull here but we have to be gatekeepers to these assets, else people will take over and we’ll have nothing in remains’ spoke his fear.

Another friend, an affluent hotelier and Fitness Guru, who will ditch the plans of Saturday evening to be present for Sunday morning Zumba, was thrilled when a new gym was looking to hire a Zumba instructor.

Something pumped blood to his heart. Money was not a measure, he’d rather pay to teach, yet in the tally of things, he realised the profile is just not compatible with his kind of background and his family will only laugh away the idea. ‘I just can’t,’ he sighed.

We’ve always believed being rich guarantees freedom, but lately, my interactions suggest that it’s indeed vice versa. Many resources in the backing, all types of incomes to support one’s lifestyle with no handicaps whatsoever. Yet there’s always a block — either mental or societal, that dictates or limits our capacity to realise our true selves.

Appearance of goodness

A celebrity friend of mine in India — who-cannot-be-named — found himself struggling with an identity crisis. ‘I’m in the business of “appearance of goodness” than the actual goodness’ he said, ‘I barely feel like a human, I cannot ever be wrong, I cannot party at a local restaurant or tweet against official policies. I withstand.

There’s no assumption for good faith for celebs. In our cocoon also, we’re all just angels jostling to out-angel one another’. Where’s the freedom or the space to exhibit true selves? His statement got me thinking, about what a waste of life it’d be. To be at the mercy of the opinion of your fans. Sure it pays, but for what it’s worth?

Freedom: Is it a certain social construct? Image Credit: Johannes Plenio

I also see some of my friends struggle with freedom anxiety. They have never been in charge of their lives. And wouldn’t have it the other way. Decision-making stirs anxiety in many, they’d rather have other people do it for them.

A married friend failing to prioritise her career as she has roles to serve back home: ‘But we all live together, pulling one thread, affects all threads, and our lives are intertwined in a joint family’.

The construction of a joint family is cemented on the bricks of compromise of the people choosing to live under it. They fail to prioritise their goals as they are accustomed to believing, that looking out for themselves, is a selfish act. And they find themselves in the orgy of bad feelings if they act otherwise.

What freedom?

The argument continued: “What freedom? A certain social construct is required! How else are we different from animals?” rejecting my idea that humans are never of their free will. My assertion plucked — freedom is more about ‘my life, my rules’ against her understanding where freedom is ‘my life, no rules’.

Humanity thrives at the centre of a social construct. The dispute is not having to do enough with your life while you still have the luxury of currency and youth to follow your heart.

While we are stuck in the scheme of wanting status, money, and more and more things — it’s honestly freedom of time and thought that we should be obsessed with.

The toil of work should accumulate wealth. The wealth that can then take vows with the freedom we’re looking at, and shouldn’t that suffice? Anything beyond that is rapacity. The greedy only recoil from the freedom’s touch.

I do not speak of freedom as an act of rebellion. That freedom is rather in knowing what puts a smile to your glee, and just chasing that in a non-hedonist fashion. It is in ensuring that we do not, in a casual manner while away our time while balancing the accounts of life.

“To be Young, Free, and Wild” — a quote inspiring my wall sitting right against the clock —

As I wrestle toward my deadline to submit this piece. For now, I can take pride in taking a coffee break. Freedom much, no?

Ashish Dewani is an avid traveller and writer. Twitter: @a5hush