You Are in Prison. (You Just Don’t Know It …)
There are many different kinds of prison and they all keep you bound!
I was thrilled to come to America which was the land of the free and home of the brave.
I now realize we define “freedom” too narrowly.
We equate freedom with the elimination of restrictions on our behavior. In our relentless pursuit of this goal we are reordering society, smashing traditions and taboos alike. Sexual preoccupation is reaching new highs as is acceptance of its flaunting. Illegal drugs are more powerful and chemically complex. Our popular entertainment constantly stretches and snaps boundaries of taste and propriety.
We have become marvelously adept at titillating our jaded senses.
There is another type of “freedom” that we have not achieved and are not even pursuing.
We are still prey to the ruthless harpies of desire that constantly spur us into action, ignite avarice and overweening ambition and goad us into activities that consume all available time and more.
We are driven by our demons, all of us – takeover titan and LBO artist, corporate chieftain and newly minted MBA, serial killer and confidence trickster, presidential candidate and congressional intern. The talons of our addictions shred our minds and wreck repose. Some, like cocaine, we declare illegal and expend vast resources to counteract. Others, like workaholism, we applaud and reward. Still others, like hypochondria and gambling, we barely acknowledge. Like it or not, we are all in the fierce grip of our restless minds, being blown hither and thither like a tumbleweed in a hurricane, expending our psychic energies in emotional roller-coasters that we are helpless to stop and unable to leave. This, too, is a prison and in our saner moments we want out.
I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its raveled fleeces by.
– Oscar Wilde
We give to others the power to determine our happiness and tranquility and do not even recognize that we have done so.
It had been a rough day.
Steve took home a good paycheck as an investment banker but frequently wondered if he was paying too high a price.
His wife had left him and was denying him the right to see their daughter. Of course he fought it but the private investigator she had hired had video recorded him snorting two whole lines of cocaine and the judge had given her sole custody with no visitation rights.
He didn’t particularly care for his visitation rights but he was damned if he would let her get away with it and so he retained a boutique – and expensive – law firm to fight the ruling.
His 360 degree evals had just come in and, as usual, there were many comments about his penchant for risqué language and jokes. That had never been a problem before but now, suddenly, everyone had become hypersensitive. The CEO said that he was creating a ‘hostile work environment’ and would have to change his ways. “**** them all,” he swore viciously under his breath. He was the one who was bringing in the deals and keeping the company afloat and now they wanted him to mend his ways? They could all ****
He reached for the flask he always carried with him. It was early but he needed a draught so he could deal with the many turkeys in his life. Plus his head ached and he needed the liquor to make his pain go away.
And my question to you is “Is Steve free?”
Try this experiment:
Sit down in a comfortable armchair and, for the next thirty minutes, do nothing.
Don’t mentally visit your to-do list, indulge in sexual fantasy, revisit the days tragedies or plot your eventual triumph. Don’t go Walter Mitty.
I have tried this exercise many times in different forums.
Most find it difficult to last five minutes let alone the full half hour.
Don’t laugh or snicker. How often have you turned on the idiot box not because there was something you wanted to watch but because you needed something to beguile the clamoring monkey mind that will not let you be?
How ‘free’ are you really if you cannot spend a half hour with yourself and by yourself?