Freedom to choose a life…

Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own–be familiar and at home with oneself.  This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.  …The purpose of education is to show persons how to define themselves authentically and spontaneously in relation to their world–not to impose a prefabricated definition of the world, still less an arbitrary definition of individuals themselves.  The world is made up of the people who are fully alive in it and can enter into a living and fruitful relationship with each other in it.  The world is therefore more real in proportion as the people in it are able to be more fully and more humanly alive: that is to say, better able to make a lucid and conscious use of their freedom. Basically, this freedom must consist first of all in the capacity to choose their own lives, to find themselves on the deepest possible level.”
–Thomas Merton, Choosing to Love the World:On Contemplation, page 37

“Later on he reckoned that what he really was looking for was someone to pay him to do and say what he wanted to do and say. Slowly he learned that that isn’t freedom, that freedom is not something you find or someone gives you. It is something you assume. And then you wait for someone to come and take it away from you. The amount of resistance you put up is the amount of freedom you will have.”

–Will D. Campbell, from the book: 40 Acres and a Goat

Several friends (at least 10) are at various stages of making a job/life transitions of some kind or another.  I’m sure there are more of which I’m not aware.  I’ve personally been facing such a possibility as well.  No specific plans or options, but I know that with the changes taking place in Tennessee CBF as Ircel moves on to other things, changes will take place in my life as well.  It tends (for me at least) to be a stressful undertaking.  I am not the type person to have my resume’ out and current, shopping for the next thing I should be doing.  I guess in some ways that’s a good thing and in others, it could be a bad thing.  However, I’ve begun to look at my own life and am attempting to explore what it is exactly.  To form the questions as Merton does above, “What is my own?”

I have been thinking about the numerous ways I relinquish my freedom each day.  I surrender it to my circumstances, my education, my security, or even my lifestyle.  It is tempting at times to shift the blame over to others: “I have a family to think about…”; “The __________ (organization, institution, etc.–fill in the blank) is broken…”; “It’s selfish to think about me…”; etc).  All of these things can conspire to keep me rooted to this spot.  The responsibility that comes with being free to choose my life can be quite daunting.  There are assumptions made daily that constrain ones thinking regarding how time will be spent and to what end.  What is your life?  It’s a pretty good question.  You are free to choose.  How you spend your time today, ultimately is your life.

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