The Daily Post: Forbidden
“You act as if it is forbidden to be yourself. To think about what you want” he looked at me with a careful, measured gaze.
“Forbidden? I don’t think it is forbidden. How did you get there?” I replied, suprised at his provoking suggestion. We’ve been talking about some decisions I had been grappling with in recent weeks, and the ideas of reality and choice came up.
“Well, you are saying that you have some free time on your hands. And straight away you start getting yourself into choices, need to focus and doing things which you describe as …meaningful.” he said, “It seems that with a little more space and time, you become scared?”
“Scared? Come on, scared of what? I am just saying that I have a few choices, but I need to get back to reality. I don’t always want to be in-between things. Always playing catch up. Thats fair isn’t it?” I smiled at his suggestion, now sure that the old man was taking me on one his philosophical ponderings.
“But ‘reality’?” was his questioning reply.
“Yeah, you are not familiar with the concept?” I laughed.
“I am not sure what is ‘reality’. Who shapes your reality? And how do you know that you need to ‘get back to it’? What you are doing now is not reality?” again answering with a question. He looked amused and ready for a long discussion.
The sun was now high above the tin roof. ‘Hot’ was no longer an adequate term. It was scorching. The air filled with ferocious, still, lifeless heat. It will be this way until late afternoon. We had plenty of time. The shade of the tin verandah roof was still gentler than the furnace a few steps away.
“You know what I mean. I can’t sit on this verandah forever. I need to sink my teeth into something. Something meaningful.Why is that acting like it is forbidden to be yourself?” I was curious to hear what he was actually getting at.
“It seems you are so quick to abandon your freedom to choose, to shape yourself and that ‘reality’ you keep on talking about” he replied sitting up in his armchair, “It is as if it is forbidden to walk your own path. You are free to choose your own way. To break with old habits, and move away from the roles society has put onto you. A great thinker said that we are condemned to be free.”
“Condemned? Why condemned? We are talking about being free, but saying there is condemnation involved?” I looked at him with curiosity.
“Condemned, because it is something we have to deal with. It is a responsibility to actually do something with your freedom. In a moment of uncertainty, or when we are really unsure about ourselves, we revert back to what we already know, to other people’s expectations of us. Sometimes it is easier to believe that something we have really hated in the past, is now the only safe option for us.” He was launching into a monologue, but it was food for thought.
“Okay, I think I see what you are saying. So I hated being stuck in the city, in the same building day in, day out. But now that I am really struggling to find a new path, I am actually thinking that it would be a good place to be in again,” I was now reflecting on some of my thoughts which did come to mind over the last week or so.
“There you go. And most people do this. Why? Is it forbidden to be yourself? To shape your own life?” he said in an excited voice, “You know what? This verandah is just as hot as it is in the open sun. I might go for a short walk to the store. What do you say we pick up where we left off in a few hours?”.
I nodded, and watched him walk down the steps. The man is as lonely and unhappy as he is free. Life has thrown him around the place. Yet he still is ready to impart wisdom.