Two Kinds of Freedom

Here’s the kind of freedom I’m not interested in: It’s the freedom to choose between other people’s options.

Some examples:

  • The freedom to buy one brand of shampoo or another.
  • The freedom of flextime, choosing to enter a job either at 8am or 9am.
  • The freedom of fashion, showing good taste by choosing Apple over Android, or Chanel over Lacoste.

Having these options certainly isn’t a bad thing. But it’s too superficial to be the kind of freedom that really matters to me.

Thinkers like Guy Debord knew this already back in the 1960s: As long as our choice is limited by what the market offers, it may not really be a choice at all.

And yet this is how things look nowadays: Just like our forefathers attended church, we are attending the supermarkets.

Isn’t that a little boring?

I mean, convenience and all, but: Isn’t a crazy funky farmer’s market about a hundred times more interesting than Wal-Mart? And wouldn’t growing our own food be even more interesting? Or decorating our house with self-made pictures instead of buying yet another Golden Gate Bridge poster? Or working at the time we are most productive, and working on stuff that actually matters to us, opposed to simply complying with senseless office policies?

Freedom No. 2

Thankfully, there’s a second kind of freedom. It’s much broader, much smarter, much more interesting… and it’s also much more difficult to achieve, because it requires permanent effort.

It’s the freedom to be the sovereign of our sphere.

To get my terms straight, a sphere is somewhat larger than just the space we move in: It includes the place where we’re at, but also the environment that’s around us, the people we interact with, the restaurants we visit and the food we eat. It also entails the work we do, the way we use our free time and leisure, and even the mindset we have.

Here’s the really good news: If we are not all that happy with what’s happening in our sphere, we can act on it. We might not be able to change it all and change it fast, but we can certainly do something.

Then, of course, here’s the drawback, and it’s true for personal sovereignty in any and all places: The second kind of freedom is do-it-yourself and it requires effort.

It demands us to get up from the couch and do something.

We cannot buy it, and it’s not able to hire someone else to achieve it for us.

Embracing this second kind of freedom won’t be as easy as choosing a new shampoo. Because our options are unlimited. Each and every one of us is unique, and each and every one of us has unique preferences: One more woo-woo, one more rational. One more salt, one more sugar. One more black and one more white.

Apart from that, it’s pretty straight forward: We choose and we act, and we do it embracing friendliness. That’s the beyond rules approach to freedom.

The How-to

Here’s the single most frequent question I get asked when talking to someone about my travels and working on the road:

How do you do it?

And my answer sometimes will take about half an hour just to get started. Because there are so many things to consider, and it’s hard to sum them all up.

There are so many great tools and supporters out there for the practicalities. It’s hard to even list them all: You can learn a new skill with a book or a mentor. You can attend a club or a bar in order to meet new people. You can learn to get paid to be you.

And those of you who wrote me about “how to do it” know a couple of my personal tips and tricks already. (Thanks for all your positive feedback! I’m currently creating something wonderful for you that will provide a unique look at this precise question. I’ll send some more details out early in August!)

BUT…

But here’s the thing with the second kind of freedom:
The real question isn’t just about how to do it.

You need to know the How, but that isn’t enough! It’s not just about buying a book or attending a course!

It’s about actually doing it.1 Sweating it and all.

It’s looking at your sphere and figuring out a way to transform it according to how you want it to be.

And if you need a good guidance for that, here it comes:

Whatever it is that you’re up to, please, please follow this piece of advice. It’s the “farmer-market-eats-Wal-Mart-for-breakfast” advice. It’s about interestingness. Here it is:

Don’t bore the Gods.

Really.

Don’t.

Don’t just sit there and watch TV. Or file some stupid document into a manila folder.

Just look outside for a little moment! The sun is shining, there’s cold beer somewhere, and even the most serious deity will be content to see you having a good time.

When it comes to the second kind of freedom and being the sovereign of your sphere, it’s time to become a little bit unserious. Seriously.

  1. I really cannot repeat this often enough. I try, but I just can’t stop! At least until everybody knows. []

Comments 10

  1. Mariette July 26, 2011

    I saw a RT by @Rhinaju and followed the word freedom. I like your style, your tone and your content. Keep going. I will be a fan.

    • Fabian July 26, 2011

      Thank you so much, Mariette! Glad to have you as a reader! And if any questions turn up, always feel free to get in touch by mail or on Twitter! :)

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  4. louis egesa August 4, 2011

    i like your work respect for the good job the photo looks like my yard in kenya

    • Fabian August 4, 2011

      Hey Louis, I’d love to see that yard! Must be a great place! :)

  5. Chris Barba August 8, 2011

    Hi Fabian,

    First post I’ve read by you and I really like your written voice!

    Good intentions are meaningless without actions. And let me tell you, I’ve had a bunch of GREAT intentions, but it wasn’t until circumstances pushed me to grow outside my box that I understood the important disparity between thoughts and actions.

    “The sun is shining, there’s cold beer somewhere…” love the vibe I got from reading this.

    Great stuff Fabian.

    • Fabian August 10, 2011

      Thanks Chris! I suppose everybody makes the same experience one day that “good intentions” aren’t enough… That’s probably just how we grow, step by step! :)

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