2022 Grateful 9: Freedom

We watched the South African film Wild is the Wind on Netflix the other night. Filmed in Eastern Cape and Great Karoo, parts of South Africa I’ve not been to, it still felt familiar. It’s a gripping movie with an excellent soundtrack. Anyway, what stuck with me was a scene when Vusi’s wife Abigail tells him that she thinks they already have a good life. But he wants so much more. He wants the freedom to be who he is.

Earlier that day, I’d stumbled on a poem by Sanne Burger that also spoke to that theme of being able to be who you are, which is why that scene, of all scenes, stuck with me. [Burger also has an interesting story of God and a girl.]

I can’t stay, mother.
I love you, but I wasn’t born to please you
I wasn’t born to make you happy
or give your life meaning.
I wasn’t born to rot under your wings
like an unhatched egg.
I can’t stay, teacher.
I wasn’t born to be put into your boxes
to think along your lines
or to memorize your facts
I was born to think independently.
I can’t stay, my love.
I wasn’t born to satisfy your needs
to take care of you
or to hide in your arms.
I wasn’t born to make myself smaller
or to be taken for granted.
I can’t stay, boss.
I wasn’t born to make money for others
I wasn’t born to follow orders
or to repeat the same day over and over again
I wasn’t born for boredom.
I can’t stay, master.
I wasn’t born to follow your ideas of what truth is
or to live according to your dogmas.
I was born to find my own truth
and make my own rules.
I was born to meet life full on
To get lost on Indian trains
To be seduced by dangerous men
To meet different faces, places and cultures
to be out in the jungle all night
To run with wolves
To be swept off my feet
To be taken by storm
To be heartbroken
Thrown into the deep
I was born to get my hands dirty
To get sand in my mouth
Mud on my clothes
Thorns under my feet
I was born to jump into the abyss.
I was born to meet aliens
To do rituals
To be cracked open in ceremony
To go beyond time and space
To welcome magic
To totally loose myself
I was born to feel everything
To taste everything
The bitter taste of sorrow
The foul taste of deceit
The sweet taste of love
I was born to learn how to handle change gracefully
I was born to know the truth
to learn how to fly
I was born to learn how to speak the language of love
How to unchain my heart
How to shed everything
How to let go of all expectations.
I was born to learn how it feels to lose everything
except what really matters.
I was born to live a life that would strip away everything that wasn’t real
that wasn’t true
that wasn’t me
I am a phoenix.
I am born to spread my wings and fly towards the sun
To burn up and turn to ashes
To fall down to earth and rise up again
When I am old
I will be proud of my scars
My wrinkles
My memories
My stories
My wisdom
My freedom.
I was born to be free.
And therefore, I can’t stay
– Sanne Burger
There’s a lot in this.
Freedom is such a loaded word.
When I was living in California, I was asked one night what I would do when I got my freedom.
What freedom, I asked, thoroughly confused.
When the IRA prevails and Ireland is free, they said.
I had to explain that they were just a tad behind the times – I was as free as they were.
I used to think that freedom of choice was the biggest freedom of all – but when the choice is between do as I say or suffer the consequences, that’s pretty limiting. The older I get the more I realise that real freedom is the freedom to be. Whoever I am. Whatever I am. Wherever I am. As long as I don’t infringe on the freedom of others. It’s more complicated than it sounds.
I am grateful for the reminder.

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