The Path to Freedom

Surrendering the battle was the key to change.

One of my favorite songs by Jewel is the song Life Uncommon. Her powerful lyrics still inspire me 10 years since I first heard them. Here is a small part of the song:

Lend your voices only to sounds of freedom.
No longer lend your strength to that which you wish to be free from.
Fill your lives with love and bravery and you shall lead a life uncommon.

© 1998 by Jewel - Spirit Album

The sounds of freedom were on my mind while I was deciding to leave my career in the “save the world” industry. Spending my six or so college years as an employee and volunteer for non-profit organizations, I found myself burnt out. I worked on global campaigns, political campaigns, social campaigns, earth campaigns and local campaigns. I learned a lot, met amazing people and I highly recommend doing your part if you are passionate about a cause. Being of service is a lot of fun and it created some positive changes, yet something slowly grew inside of me in those six years that felt terrible. Looking at who I had become, in a chance moment of clarity, I realized I wasn’t happy with what I saw. The questions came pouring out of me. Was I peaceful? What battles was I waging? Was I free?

The answer came back as a resounding no. I was angry. I was being eaten up inside by hate and judgments. At the same time I was fighting for freedom of the planet, our health, and resources, I was creating a war against the people who did not feel my passion, or who were not listening to the “truth” or acting outwardly concerned about the many plights of the universe. I felt that I was right in my anger and there was plenty of “proof” that my negative emotions seemed justified. First of all, many of those who worked along with me felt the same way. We told our stories as “us against them,” the essence of all great battles. Any perceived injustice and we were ready to fight. Every minor decision that we were so sure was wrong, would stir up our battle cry. The thought that people were treating our planet poorly, by not recycling or buying organic, cutting down rainforests and massive plastic consumerism, was turning my mind into a battlefield against the world. The battle was on, but it was becoming very clear, no one was winning.

How was I going to create this new inner freedom inside myself, when everything on the outside of our planet was going so wrong? Something needed to change and I was shocked when I discovered it was me. How could that be true? I was one of the “good guys,” right? I was fighting the evil in the world. It couldn’t be me… if only the world would change for the better and yet, something miraculous happened when I simply held up the surrender flag.

Although I loved the “save the world” industry, for me there was too much ammunition available to keep my fierce battle going. I needed to escape the war, so I left and became a waitress. Right or wrong, once I walked away my life shifted dramatically. As a waitress, my world became all about making peace and not war. I would say, “What would you like?” If they ordered a cheese sandwich, I brought it to them, no battle and they were happy. If there was a problem such as, “There isn’t enough cheese on this sandwich,” I would fix the problem, letting go of resistance and creating peace with another slice of cheese.

Giving others what they wanted (cheese sandwich) and not what they didn’t (an angry fight-the-power sergeant) became a very simple, fulfilling and joyous way of life for me, and I was loving it! Peace was my only goal for every table. I would sing, I would tell jokes, I would share joy as much as I could with all my new found energy. Happiness spread throughout my life, from finding happy friends, to a soon-to-be husband. Jewel was brilliant. I wanted to be free from the negative mind battle, so I no longer gave strength to that battle, and I felt free.

The next step is to begin filling life with love. I fell deeply in love that same year I became a waitress. Being in love is so fabulous, because it brings out not just the love for your sweetheart, but also the love for everything around you. Rose colored glasses were cemented to my face for 3 solid months. I found beauty in things I never did before. One of my favorite stories, is how on our first date, I loved to watch my partner rip the BBQ rib meat off of the bone. It seemed the most beautiful thing in the world to watch him eat. It also seemed insane, as I was a vegetarian and before this man, I wouldn’t even date a guy who ate meat. Meat-eaters were part of the other group. It wasn’t just his meat eating, either. I began to feel differently about every carnivore around me. What was happening to me? I was amazed at how I was beginning to feel love for the others, instead of hate. Letting go of whether people were vegetarians, or recyclers or concerned environmentalists was giving me a greater love for everyone, including myself. It seemed so strange to me at the time, though now it seems obvious. When you stop judging and hating others, you can stop judging and hating yourself. What a wonderful feeling love is!

Small battles that used to consume my mind began to fall away as I continued to live life with my own beliefs. I was recycling, I was buying organic, and I was trying to implement changes at the restaurant that would reduce waste. I spoke to others about what I believed and why I believed it, when the topic would arise. I understood that a war over ideas didn’t need to be started, even if they thought mine were nonsense. My mind began to learn that we are all just doing our own thing, the best we could, including me. My honesty grew as I noticed when I wasn’t being the picture of environmental perfection. I was just doing the best I could, too. It was no longer “us” against “them,” it was just “us.”

The final step is bravery. The more I was feeling love and freedom inside my body, mind, and spirit, the more I was feeling love and freedom for others on the outside. My voice for freedom began to come out when I spoke with others. My voice was more compassionate and understanding. My voice was more authentic and brave. My voice was becoming free. I noticed how much courage it took to tell people I loved them. I noticed how much courage it took to be sensitive, instead of sarcastic; kind instead of cool. It showed through how I treated my family, my friends, the waitress at the restaurant when I was hungry, and the teller at the bank when I was in a hurry. It began very slow, as my old habits were not always easy to break. Sometimes, I would slip back and feel the fight come into my body and mind. Sometimes, I still do. It simply is a practice to see the lesson presented and forgive myself when I slip back into old patterns. I notice my successes, and continue to practice, no matter how badly I fall.

Slowly, my practice is becoming my new habit. Writing bravely for love and freedom has become my passion. Now, I am not trying to convince others to recycle or buy responsibly, I am encouraging others to openly love themselves for who they are and for where they are at. Brave questions come out and ask, are you living your most inspired life right now? What would that look like to you if you were? My new “save the world” career focuses on one spirit at a time, encouraging myself and others to create a life uncommon.

With the ongoing war across the sea, I continue to find gratitude and love for all of us who create it and participate in it. We all still have lessons to learn. The ongoing practice to end our inner battles and create more positive energy inside each one of us is the path to real change.

It's the path to freedom.


Copyright 2008 by Rain Fordyce Click here to Join the Conversation


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