At the weekend, I was listening to an interview with the author Ben Okri. He was talking about his upcoming new book ‘The Freedom Artist’. The story is based around the concept that this world we live in, is in fact a prison. He describes how we have an innate sense of our imprisonment and that the disquiet we experience in our lives, comes from this sense that any freedom we see is only an illusion.
Whilst I can’t wait for the book to come out and read more, this whole discussion got me thinking.
In this thing we call life, on this planet we call earth, we could imagine we have complete freedom to live where we want and be whoever we want to be. We have the ability to move across continents, to integrate into different societies (or not) and make connections wherever we feel. Unless of course we’re in a place called prison. In this place, our day would be defined and constrained. Our movements would be limited and how we spend our time would be defined and enforced.
Where then does our normal day to day life fit with either of these?
Most of us wouldn’t class ourselves as being in prison. Yet, I’m sure many of us would believe we’re not free to use time as we’d like. Nor are we free to be anywhere or be anyone we want to be. Surely, the constraints created by work structures, societal norms and even social media acceptability, make sure our freedom is more limited than we would like?
Layer on to that, the number of people who actually dislike the life circumstances they’re in. How many of you are in a job you despise? How many of you wish your relationship was happier and your life more fulfilling? That would make the ‘prison’ feel all the more rigid and constraining. There’s very little sense of freedom there.
As far as I see it, many of us spend a lot of time and energy working out how to escape from our own prisons. Searching for a way to feel free, to feel better, to be more authentic. Yet, there’s another possibility.
What if, as Ben Okri suggests, all we are experiencing is no more than an illusion?
What if the circumstances, the events and the perceived constraints are all created through our own thoughts, brought to life and felt in every part of our being?
Where is the prison then?
Just imagine this, given we have thousands of new, disparate thoughts every day, each one has the potential to create the exact experience of freedom we crave, irrespective of the external circumstances we find ourselves in.
The process creating our experience, be it a prison or complete freedom, is there, running all the time, we just forget that the door of the cage is open.