“Don’t keep fighting your environment, if it is that bad, then change your environment” – I tell myself this often, but saying that to myself often enough does not result in preventing my fighting it over and over again. Conditioned as a prisoner, I like finite, clear cut aspects in things around me. And as far as those things go, imprisonment, and not freedom, is familiar and comfortable for me. Tradition, expectation, guilt, shortcoming, regret — you can name them and I’ll be seen holding them close to my chest more often than not.

Freedom is not the ability to do anything I like and do anything I want when I want to. Those are only few of the various manifestations of freedom. At a higher level, freedom is the release from the only choices I have given myself so far in life. Freedom is the choice always available to me to release myself from guilt, regret and pain of things that I have done and of things that I have not done. Freedom is my ability to choose what makes me genuinely happy, even if it does not make everyone around me happy.

That happiness, though, need not be easy or kind to you. I gave up the security of a well-paying job 3-years ago because I was not happy. In the process of discovering the specifics of what makes me happy I have erred a lot, made a lot of mistakes, let myself and a lot of others down, incessantly doubted my own abilities and I have also been living a far less flamboyant life than what I have been used to. You may not believe it, but joy and pain can co-exist at their extremes on this road.

Eventually, I wound up feeling far less divine and a great deal more human and ordinary than what I used to think of myself earlier. I am free now to feel a lot more, but what I feel may not always be to my liking. Therein lies the essential paradox of the situation – why would you want to be free in this manner to feel all those difficult things. Well, you don’t need to. The freedom at stake here is not the freedom from pain or difficulty. The freedom at stake here is the freedom to choose differently, each time, every time. It is the freedom to realize that you are in a prison by your own choice.