3 Nov 2012

Smells Like Free Spirit (Part 2)

"A prayer for the wild at heart that are kept in cages" - Tennessee Williams, Stairs to the Roof, 1941

Free spirits come in all shapes and forms. I firmly believe that we are all free spirits at heart. We are born that way, although education, social codes and expectations, the class system, the structured work environment, financial pressures, life changes, and other externals will send a reality check down our way, crush those youthful ideals and shackle most of us to our 'lower base needs', i.e. a lifetime of relative servitude, rewarded by a stack of material possessions, and vaguely comforted by mirages and second bests.

'Clinging to the cliffside', Route 1, Big Sur Coastline by Jeff Swanson, via Flickr

Most of us will find some sort of contentment within our shallow lifestyle, while others will be kept awake at night by the intrinsic wonders of life, puzzled by the actual meaning of it all, and tortured in their waking hours by that urge to finally break free from the rat race but without any clear-cut master plan in mind, yet sane enough to not fall prey to any sort of "turn on, tune in and drop out" counterculture psychedelic buzzphrase, or any form of sectarian idolism!

Nonetheless a handful of us will remain true to our core values throughout, stand the test of time and the trappings of the modern world to move to the next level, to seek the meaning of happiness and engage in its pursuit. Pursue the quest for wisdom, a purpose to life, a fit in society, via worthwhile charitable causes, faith and religion, and/ or travel. One will facilitate the other. Some will embark upon a journey of self-discovery for a while, maybe even through a career break or 'adult' gap year, then come back when satisfied enough, hopefully with a role, a purpose, a vision, a mission, a line of conduct. Some will be back with no clear purpose, but will be enriched by experience, a taste of freedom and new-found knowledge in a multitude of areas.

Via All That Glitters Is Not Gold (Tumblr)

Others will be in it for the long haul, devoting a lifetime to the self-discovery cause, yet with no guarantee to find answers and/ or to contribute meaningfully to society's welfare via their alternative thinking and doing. They might get lost in the process and turn into those 'eternal' travellers, those drifters living for the moment, who lost their roots and foundations, and are of no fixed abode.

Philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and sociologists have devoted lifetimes to the fact that man is naturally good and needs to break free from society's coercive and corruptive hold. With this in mind, some of us free spirits will take to the road looking for ourselves, seeking answers, musing about inspiration, searching the truth, our own truth, while enacting our own version of the Jack Kerouac road trip.

Via Le Croissant d'Argent (Tumblr)

Not all journeys are necessarily geographical. Some are inner/ introvert journeys, through spiritual awareness, meditation, contemplation, philosophy etc. At the other end of the spectrum, some journeys start, happen or end down California's Silicon Valley. The valley is full of original free spirits, techie by nature, but also outside-of-the-box thinkers wearing Converse sneakers and that Che Guevara tee, who juggle algorithms and streamline open source so the rest of us can benefit from the latest web 2.0 advancements. Free spirits are not necessarily ascetic nor are they bound to be cash-poor and devoid of needs.

The definition of free spirit is difficult to pinpoint as such. Free spirits are free thinkers, truth seekers, open-minded, open to the world and to change, open to the possibilities of a better world; they see things from a different perspective. They have a fresh approach, with a hint of optimism and idealism; they are passionate lovers of life (despite sometimes contesting it), almost carefree and not as confined by social restrictions as the conformists. (to be continued)

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Smells Like Free Spirit is a 4-part series:  Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4

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