Saturday, October 12, 2013

Choice, Passion, Freedom

That we are unique may seem like a cliché, but it's true.  Because of our individual circumstances, contingencies, and choices we make, we are individuals.  Although at birth we had no choice as to our situation, as we mature and obtain the ability to decide, we make ourselves and we create our lives through our choices.  At some point, we cannot blame anyone else for our lives.  We cannot hope for anyone else to change our lives.  Only we, as individuals, can do this.  We are responsible for ourselves.  Furthermore, we are always making individual choices.  It doesn't matter if the whole world is making them at the same time; ours is still an individual choice.  Responsibility is always responsibility of our individual choices and acceptance of the consequences that result from those choices.

Our choices, therefore, become our lives, and through our choices, we must passionately commit ourselves to a way of life.   Soren Kierkegaard said, “Existence is passionate commitment to life.”  His concept of passion, however, is not the passion erupting on stage like a Greek tragedy or exploding on TV like a modern reality show; rather, he advocated for an avocation of passion that is inwardly contained, a quiet intensity that emerges from our being and doing.  Passion motivates us.  Passion gives meaning to life.  When we allow our passion to guide us through life, then our choices matter because we align our choices with our passion. 

Because we can make choices, we are free.  Freedom, in this context, means personal freedom: how we think of ourselves, how we behave, and how we think of our behavior.  This personal freedom ties back to each of us an individual smaking choices, deciding how to live our lives, and accepting the consequences and taking responsibility once we've made our choices.  Being alive is taking hold or our lives, realizing our talents and virtues, loving ourselves in a very important way, and understanding that what our lives are about is manifesting those talents, revealing those virtues, throwing ourselves into the work we do, and becoming the people we really are. 

We are what we are and we become what we become because of the personal commitments and choices we make.   Absolute freedom is absence of ultimate constraints because there are always choices.  Freedom isn't the freedom to do whatever we want; freedom is to do what we want with full individual responsibility for what we have done.

Our freedom—that is, our choices—may take us to a situation or a life we may find difficult, unfulfilling, or absurd.  We may find ourselves asking, as David Byrne does in the Talking Heads song, Once in a Lifetime, “Well, how did I get here?”  These moments are opportunities for spiritual practice.  They allows us to discover who we are and what we're supposed to do, taking us back to the two essential and existential questions we should frequently ask ourselves: Who am I? What am I doing?  We find  out who we are by doing and looking at what we have done.  Therefore, do.  As Jean Paul Sartre said, “To be is to do.” 

Ultimately, it's up to us, each of us as an individual.  So gear up the passions and live a passionate life.  Make a commitment to choice and responsibility for that choice.  Live with no excuses.  Practice self reliance, self realization, and self responsibility no matter how fast, how superficial, how stupid, or how furious the world. 

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