"Create your own version of reality and will yourself into giving it a sense."
To be free means not to be subjected to the necessities of life, to your instinct for survival. All of your biological needs are met, not requiring thought or worry.
It also means to not be under anyone’s rule, including your own – not to be in command and not to be commanded.
At first, this might seem like a paradox. We assume that when we are the rulers we are free, simply because there is a certain liberty of choice that comes with such a position – the power to act and to have influence. This is usually something that we strive towards.
But what comes along with power is also a tremendous amount of responsibility, this freedom of choice is in itself limiting. A king has simply created his own job and rule set to adhere to.
I propose the following conditions for freedom as I see them in my own life.
- Be free from all biological necessity.
- Do not let yourself be subject to somebody else’s rule or rule set.
- Be very mindful of the rules and responsibilities you impose on yourself, the meanings and truths you subscribe to.
Existentialism provides a useful framework for thinking about freedom. Life as we live it on earth is an absurd construct. We can create our own meaning, in fact this is our duty if we want to live an enjoyable life. Most people are either paralyzed by the infinity of choice, or by the belief in false conventions. We often choose to keep things as they are simply because reinventing oneself, being confronted with the unlimited freedom of choice, can cause an immense sense of discomfort and anxiety. But the meaning we attribute to things, situations and feelings does not define who we are.
Sources and Further Reading
Arendt, H., Allen, D. S., & Canovan, M. (2018). The human condition. The University of Chicago Press.