Being Free

Happy Independence Day, all you proud Indians, slightly belated, but it is still Independence Day as I write this.

Freedom has come to mean a lot more than just the notion of being self-governed. It has started gnawing the innards of the self. A mere declaration of independence does little in achieving it. And Tagore’s words resonate:

Obstinate are the trammels, but my heart aches when I try to break them.

Freedom is all I want, but to hope for it I feel ashamed.

I am certain that priceless wealth is in thee, and that thou art my best friend, but I have not the heart to sweep away the tinsel that fills my room.

The shroud that covers me is a shroud of dust and death; I hate it, yet hug it in love.

My debts are large, my failures great, my shame secret and heavy; yet when I come to ask for my good, I quake in fear lest my prayer be granted.

— Rabindranath Tagore

This is, surprisingly, the same person who wrote, “Where the mind is without fear…”. I say surprising because, while I am not quite familiar with the chronology of Tagore’s poetry, he has obviously experienced the clutch as as well as the release.

Tagore is not, or has evolved from being, the patient that Sheldon Kopp refers to when he says:

He prefers the security of known misery to the misery of unfamiliar insecurity.

So, apart from the notional freedom that we all experience on this day, there is an arduous journey we all will have to undertake before we can be truly free. Free from what? That “what” is a personal trammel that we will need to identify and cut through each layer before we can swim free to the surface and gulp in fresh air.

Chinese Fishing Nets - 4

We are often blind to that obstacle that holds us back. We think we are free, yet somewhere our heart does not accept it. That mildly nagging feeling of slavery never leaves us alone. We walk with our heads held high, yet the thud is our heart is nervous. It is almost Matrix-ically Neo-tic where you do not know if you are dreaming or awake. And we cover ourselves with more tinsel, that perhaps may blunt the unwavering call of freedom that keeps softly beckoning.

And we get weighed down by the tinsel that promises false safety.

Yet, we want to be free.

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8 thoughts on “Being Free

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