Sunday’s Wisdom #86: Live Free

“Up here in the cold, thin air, I finally can breathe.
I know I left a life behind, but I’m too relieved to grieve.”
– from “Let it Go (Single Version)” sung by Demi Lovato

I really like the movie Frozen. Not least because of the runaway hit song, “Let it Go.” But the radio single version, the one we hear right at the end of the movie as the credits roll, is slightly different, for obvious reasons. And this line somehow really resonates with me.

When Elsa flees her home and loved ones, she’s not exactly trading up. She’s alone, in a hostile environment, with nothing to her name but what she can make with her own abilities. But to that point in her life, she’d been living in fear, hiding who she truly was, everything she did in accordance with what others wanted from her. That sort of life is nothing if not suffocating. So, with that image in mind, it’s telling that she finally found herself and felt free when she broke free from all of that.

Do not misunderstand me: there is a good deal of virtue and wisdom and strength to be found in accepting our lives as they are, being content with what we already have, especially when we have so much compared to others. But no matter how good our lives are, no matter how rich and blessed, our lives will always be hollow if we’re only living the way that others want us to. It’s not really living your life if you don’t make your own decisions about who you are and what you want. In the end, if you are to be happy, you have to do what is right for you. And not because someone else expects it, but because you, yourself, want it. Sometimes we just have to be a little selfish.

It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s usually very difficult and inconvenient, involving real risks and real loss, including loss of comfort. Sometimes it can cost you the entire life you had before, and that is a high price. But when you break free from what’s holding you back, when you let go of the burdens you don’t truly need to carry… then, maybe, just maybe, you can stretch, and breathe, and be happy. You may even be happy enough to cry tears of joy.

Of course, there is a flip side, as there always is. Sometimes we get lost on the road to happiness. Sometimes it takes so much time and effort, and doesn’t appear to give us anything back. Sometimes we’re wrong about what’s holding us back, and we make a wrong choice. So we should listen to others, we should be prudent and cautious, lest we make a terrible mistake with devastating consequences.

But, speaking in very general terms, I’d say it’s better to make a mistake and learn from it than to never even try.

It’s better to make your own life than it is to let others rule it.

Would you rather be yourself with very little, or be rich as long as you wear a mask for every minute of every day for the whole of your life?

If you’re not yourself, then you cannot be happy, no matter your circumstances.

But if you are yourself, then you can be happy anywhere.

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