Responsibility is freedom. Doesn’t that sound so wrong? As adults we try to recreate our carefree childhoods – yearning for a week at a resort or dreaming of retirement.
So how can I say that responsibility is freedom? It’s freedom from being ruled by other people’s opinions and whims. It’s freedom from being a victim. It’s freedom to make your own life.
When I am responsible for my part in a situation, I am free to make that situation what I want it to be. No one else gets to tell me what the story is or how it’s going to play out.
Let’s say my bicycle is stolen. I can blame the thief for taking it (and yes, I do blame the thief for taking it – I only have to be responsible for my part of the situation). I can blame society for making it necessary for people to be thieves. I can blame God for making me a victim.
Or I can take responsibility for my part in it: lock up my bicycle; have the serial number registered; advocate for better law enforcement and bicycle enclosures, and consciously choose to let the situation be done.
If my boss criticizes my work, I can sulk and complain that he’s being unfair, or I can examine where I can take ownership for what’s being said and change for my own betterment.
These are just tiny examples.
Because I am responsible for my life, I can make it anything I want it to be. I am not limited by the illusion that other people will or should determine how the world ought to be.
I give myself the power to write my own story and the freedom to write it how I want it to be.
A friend and I were venting about the affront of being asked as single travellers to either pay a whopping single supplement* or bunk up with a complete stranger that the tour company offers to find. The incredible thing is solo travellers accept this treatment.
It struck me how much society is biased against single people and how bought in to this bias single people are. Please note that I use the term “single” to mean both unmarried people and people out in public on their own.
Here’s a quick list of common activities many people are uncomfortable doing solo:
Eating in a restaurant
Going to a movie, concert, gallery etc.
Attending a wedding or other social event
Having a drink in a bar.
It is fun to share experiences with others, but it’s also fun, or sometimes just necessary, to get out on your own.
To not live your life and do the things you want to because you are “just one” is cruelly self-limiting. To let society or business dictate what you are allowed to do and enjoy as one person is egregious.
This is not the ark. We do not need to go forth two by two. We are whole just as we are. We don’t need an “other half” or ~eesh~ a “better half.” And we certainly don’t need anyone’s permission or approval to be in public and do whatever we like on our own.
In Europe and North America there are now more single people (and single-person households) than married/partnered people. The world is seeing a social and economic shift. We can all help speed up that shift and make the world a more inclusive place for everyONE by venturing out solo (but en masse!) and claiming our space in the world.
*Single supplement. Isn’t that an interesting term? What’s actually getting supplemented isn’t the single traveller’s vacation experience but the travel industry’s coffers.
This is a blog about simple wisdom from savvy women. But being aware of the things I don’t know is also worthwhile. The more I learn about life the less I realize I “know.” I don’t even know what I don’t know!
The awareness of my own ignorance keeps life open and full of possibilities.
Painting by Glen Tarnowski
I thought I knew there was a God (just one) and that there was life before life, and life after death. I was sure that karma, reincarnation, ghosts, spirit communication et al all were real. As it happens, I do still believe in all these things, but do I know these things exist? Do I know what happens when we die? No. I take these things on faith. My mother’s gravestone says “Gone to see for myself” and that sums up the situation rather nicely, in my opinion.
I don’t know what other people are thinking or what motivates them. A lot of the time I don’t even know what I’m going to do next or why.
I don’t know what’s going to happen today, tomorrow or ever. Life is unpredictable. It can blindside or delight in the space of a heartbeat.
Knowing that I don’t know much means I can comfortably let the world and the people in it run their own lives without feeling the need to meddle or change everything or everyone. It’s a state of being that’s simultaneously humbling and liberating, and there is deep peace in accepting that life is full of unsolvable mysteries.