What is Freedom?


In the course of writing my four novels, I asked myself repeatedly, “What is freedom?”

Eventually I came to realize  that there are as many answers to that question as there are human circumstances in this world.

Take, for instance, ten (out of 1,155) freedom quotes I found at Goodreads:

  1. “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” ― Jim Morrison
  2. “The secret of happiness is freedom, the secret of freedom is courage.” ― Carrie Jones
  3. “Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.” ― Jean-Paul Sartre
  4. “Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”― Benjamin Franklin
  5. “I needed to stop being what everyone thought I was.” ― Sarah Addison Allen
  6. “There is more than one kind of freedom. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.”― Margaret Atwood
  7. “Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”― Thich Nhat Hanh
  8. “The true value of a human being can be found in the degree to which he has attained liberation from the self.”― Albert Einstein
  9. “If you want total security, go to prison. There you’re fed, clothed, given medical care and so on. The only thing lacking… is freedom. ”― Dwight D. Eisenhower
  10. “Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind.”― John Milton

Each quote approaches freedom from a different angle, yet all hint at sacrifice in one form or another.

I know of three songs titled Freedom isn’t Free, one by David Earl Boyer, one by Team America, and one by Paul Colvell, and each warns that freedom comes at a price.

Through my novels, I encourage readers to step away from conditioned responses and follow their intuition and internal guidance to step into their own life stories.  This involves opening their eyes to sources of inspiration outside the status quo to help them negotiate the complexities of their lives.  Which isn’t easy.  It means stepping into “the between,” a scary place that most of us don’t enter voluntarily.  Instead we are catapulted into it by some life changing event, called the inciting incident in fiction.

Yet isn’t stepping away from conditioned responses and following our internal guide a form of freedom?  Isn’t daring to find sources of inspiration outside the status quo a form of freedom?

You bet.  It’s called spiritual freedom.  And fighting for it demands a price.

In my novels, my protagonist, a “material girl” obsessed with freedom and self-control, is hardly prepared for life in the spiritual fast lane.  But as with most spiritual journeys, she doesn’t have a choice.  She is forced out of her comfort zone, only to discover and make use of ancient wisdom tools, such as the Native American Medicine Wheel, the labyrinth, meditation, yoga, and visualization, on her path to self discovery.

And guess what?  In the process of writing her story, I stepped out of my own rigid and self-protective comfort zone to make some liberating discoveries of my own.

By extending the possibility of conventional reality through story, I stepped onto the middle road (of both/and) leading to a future open to possibilities.  I learned to accept guidance from all that life sends me.

I stepped into “the between.”