Ongoing thoughts as I sit here in Thailand.
I'll first note that by "freedom" here I mean freedom in many realms, any realm - physical, spiritual, financial, emotional, as it regards families and relationships and friendships, logistics-wise, career-wise... really, anything.
I want freedom. Need freedom, really, to thrive and be myself.
I want companionship. Fellowship, community, partnership - I do like company, I do like sharing things, I don't want to be lonely.
I want both these things - and I want them together. They're not mutually incompatible, but if and when I must pick, I choose freedom over company; I'd rather be lonely and at liberty - even lonely and hungry yet at liberty - than comfortable and fed among fellows-in-bondage. It's a mistake to equate freedom with solitude, and that's a mistake I've made in the past; you can be free and alone, but it's better yet to be free and together.
I want to be a free person in the company of free people, part of a community where people make their own choices and where they choose to be together - where they are together because they want to be rather than because they have no other option but to be.
If people I care about - family, friends, teammates, anybody - are not at liberty themselves for any reason, I won't abandon them on account of that, if they are trying to get out and join me. I will wait. I will even go back to visit, and to help - but I'm always, always waiting for them to get through and be free themselves. I won't go back and stay; I won't relinquish my own freedom to be with them. And I will trust that those who care for me will understand, or come to understand - I believe that people also want freedom for those they love.
I do. And whatever patience and strength and courage they and I need for that, we will find and make and ask for.
Others have made this choice in many different realms before. Those who've converted to - for instance, Christianity - they still love their family, regardless of how their family reacts to them, because that's what the religion teaches (in fact - and I agree with this - it says that God is love). And because of that love, they hope their family will also convert and join them in the freedom and the richness that they've found in Jesus. They don't go "I love you, so I'll convert back to paganism/atheism/whatever." That isn't love. You love your neighbor, yes - but you also love yourself. You love your neighbor as you love yourself. I have often made the mistake of loving my neighbor more, and myself not at all.
But that does not make sense. If you're wealthy, you don't help a friend out of debt by blowing out your own credit cards; if you're in good physical shape, you don't help a family member lose weight by going on a 5-month forced donut-eating binge so you can journey out together. That's silly. You use your stability and your knowledge to stay there while helping them come out. You give them something to work towards.
I'm not saying that I'm free in all these aspects of my life (and others I've forgotten to list). Far from it. Financially, I'm pretty well-off for a 24-year-old. Career-wise, not bad either. I'm pretty satisfied with my friendships - I have been very blessed - there are probably ways to improve that balance, but I'm quite happy with what I have.
But I also do a terrible job of taking care of myself. Emotionally, family-and-relationships-wise, I'm a wreck. Physically, I'm 24 and lucky enough to be have good health despite the abuse I put my body through, but I know it's "despite" and not "because." I have been trying to readjust my pace, particularly over the past few months, because I know that if I keep this pace up it'll destroy me within the next decade. (RSI was a big wake-up call in this regard.) So there are things I'm far from free in, far from good at, far from clear with.
And the overall balance I have between all this stuff is utter crap - it's like getting an A+ on one class that represents a 200% and F's in all the rest. I could get an A+ with 100% and pull those F's up to D's, at least. Or I could get straight B's, or some A's and some B's and some C's - the balance doesn't matter, I can choose that... but I want a different balance than the one I have now. I would like to not have F's, and if the tradeoff is that I get an A instead of an A+ somewhere else, then... that's what the tradeoff is. A better balance will give me a chance to build my resources and my strengths, so instead of needing to use my A+ to frantically bail out all these F's, maybe I'll have an A and then a lot of C's, but then I can start working on the C's so they'll become B-'s, but from a stance of "this is reasonably acceptable and it will get better now!" rather than "GAAH! FAIL! PANIC!"
So there's stuff I could be better at. And I can and should have my friends who are better at those things than I am help me learn from their example; stay a stable base there themselves, and wait for me and help me join them in that sort of abundance. We all have strengths and weaknesses; that's why we join together so that we can help each other balance out. Pull each other onwards, upwards.
This isn't eloquent nor as coherent as I'd like it to be, but it's out there; I'm posting this out as a chronicle to my future self. Then I will finish writing an email, then I will write some thank-you notes to a few people who've inspired me, then I will... see where I'm at.
This is what I need the time and space to do, this sort of thinking, resting, mind-clearing. I'm going to talk with my family about it when they get back. And I will find some way to have this space and be with them. Maybe I wake up early in the morning, maybe I bow out of some things we do together so that I'll be 100% there during the other ones. We'll see. Whatever it is, I'm going to keep my own stillness and my own peace and my own center so that I can be with others.
Easier said than done, I know. But the hard is what makes it great.