Updated: Jan 20
Have you ever felt actually, completely, free?
That’s the thing about standing on a mountain top, looking at a skyline, staring at the sunset, gazing at the moon, or any kind of view- you’re under the impression that you feel absolutely and astonishingly free. But do you actually feel free? What does being, or feeling free even mean? "I have always thirsted for knowledge, I have always been full of questions."- Herman Hesse, Siddhartha.
I went on my first hash-run recently. For those of you who don’t know, no, there’s no actual “hash” involved. But beer, snacks and loads of water are indeed included, that, and a hiking trail with quite a few surprises.
So, let me first explain what exactly a hash is: hashing involves a hare who lays a trail of flour, chalk, sawdust or paper which is followed by a pack of harriers (runners, or in my case, walkers). Once the pack has reached the finish point and are suitably rested it is usual to form a circle. In this circle, hashers are punished for misdemeanours on the run by being given a “down-down” which involves drinking or “downing” a beer in one.
So, the hash began, the hares set off, and we set off shortly afterwards. We followed the trail up into the mountains and explored beautiful trails and sights. There was one point in the hash where almost everyone had to slide down on their bums because it was too steep of a drop. Rocks were flying down on other hashers’ heads. It was a laugh. I tried to balance on a log. Turns out the log was old, and dead, so it broke upon touch and a rain of ants came stumbling down on my head. Yeah, it was funny. One of the hashers’ parents came to town to visit, so he brought them along. I still laugh to the memory of hearing him apologise “I’m so sorry mum.” “I’m so sorry.” Ha! The trail also led into a temple of hell. It was unexpectedly scary. We were led through an abandoned school which was astonishing. We met a lot of cute, underfed, gorgeous street-dogs along the way, and of course whilst all of this, I was sweating profusely from the humidity and complaining about it like a teenager. Ha!
Anyway, back to the beautiful scenery.. Somewhere along the trail we were pretty high up on the mountain with a beautiful landscape laid out in front of us. It was too gorgeous to describe in words- as most sceneries are. So, after taking a picture, or a couple to get the “perfect” shot that I’ll filter and edit later anyway, I just stared out in front of me and realised in that moment, even though drenched in sweat, I felt completely comfortable, silent, and awake. I felt, what I, and some others might describe as free. I felt broken off from the world. I didn’t think about work. I didn’t feel pain. I didn’t feel mentally ill. I felt content. I felt at ease. I felt free.
It didn’t last for long because first of all, do we really feel as free as we think we do when staring out onto a great view in nature? Aren’t we actually just programmed or tricked into thinking that we do? It’s the norm right? Your mom is convinced, your followers are convinced, your celebrity crush is convinced, even your pet is convinced that being in nature makes you perceive freedom. Even Herman Hesse wrote about it: "Seeking means to have a goal, but finding means to be free, to be receptive, to have no goal." Well, then why do be build million dollar companies, destroy nature and, if I even have to mention the straw thing. And, I’m pretty sure a slave feels the same way, right before turning around and going back to doing whatever is demanded of them (but this is a discussion for another blog entry).
So for me, I didn’t feel free, I felt like it was a great view, a perfect scenery, followed by extreme anxiety that I needed to get back on the track because I didn’t want to be the last one to get to the ending point. Especially because it was my first endeavour, and who wants to be the last one to finish anyway?
We finally reached the end, had to down a lot at “down-downs,” because it was my birthday in the same month, for being newbies, for wearing my feelings on my shirt (my shirt read “it’s ok to have a bad day”) and for being in Changhua for 3 years and only now joining the hash. Needless to say I forgot about feeling free and beautiful sceneries, I forgot about being content, I forgot about slaves and celebrity crushes, I just got drunk and continued living my life, as I did before.
I guess I’m trying to figure out if one can actually be free, even though attempting to reach the feeling. If you had the perfect occupation, the perfect family situation, if you, or your race, culture, religion, sexual preference, or any other defining factors in your life are not marginalised or discriminated upon, would you ever feel, or be free?
I was speaking to a friend about the topic and she asked me what I thought being free actually was. She asked me “is it the deep breath you take before you hit the top, or is it the view at the top.” To which we both had different answers, which proves that freedom means something different to each and every one of us. But my question is; what if every single aspect or object that you perceive as holding you back from being free, just suddenly evaporates into the air, would you actually feel free? Or are we just programmed to chase after something that we’ll never achieve?
To answer the question I asked at the start of this ‘novel,’ No! I don’t feel free at all, and I don’t think I ever will. I could never feel free while any other person, animal, or alien (for that matter) isn’t presented with the option to be free from anything and everything that causes it to perceive its life to be unfree (but I feel like this is also a subject for another day).
I guess what I want you, the reader, to take away from this, is; have you actually ever felt free? or have you ever questioned feeling free? and, if you have, please share your experience with me. I’m eager to be informed. I’m persuaded that there is no such thing as freedom. I’m open to lose a debate because "opinions mean nothing; they may be beautiful or ugly, clever or foolish, anyone can embrace or reject them," but "I have always thirsted for knowledge, I have always been full of questions."
That’s all for now,