The second face of freedom: Freedom from the future and embracing the gift of each day
Author’s note: This is the second of a 3-part series.
Following our First Face of Freedom, Freedom from the Past, our second is integrally connected to the first. Essentially an unhealed past requires a future. This is the ego at work, where denial and projection are the fundamental defensive tools it uses. A case in point: one’s childhood trauma, say a sense of homelessness, is never fully resolved, so we see a repeating pattern, searching for our true home, throughout one’s life. This can be especially true for expats, perhaps experiencing decades of nomadic existence. Surely this was true for me, having 30+ “homes” in the U.S., then exploring six countries in Latin America, and finally after settling in Cuenca, still moving six times until finally finding my true paradise. I still have to pinch myself, realizing that I will never move again; the search is over.
In this way we see our potential freedom from the future. Whatever our past has been, there exists the possibility that we no longer place demands on the future. We are content with our life becoming simple, a constant, each day a lovely replication of the one before. Our days of searching are behind us, and we genuinely embrace the gift of each day. I taught my daughter when she was quite young, perhaps three, that truly there is only one day, today. This was an easy lesson for her, not yet conditioned, no ego entanglements to interfere. I often ask her to reinforce the lesson, “what day is it?” She always answers, “today.”
As I often do, using film as an example, the movie “Forrest Gump” delightfully expresses how simple-mindedness and happiness go hand in hand. I love the part of the film where Gump begins running, and he is asked repeatedly what was his plan. He had no plan; he was simply running. After a while Gump attracted quite a crowd, many of his running companions devotedly speaking of Gump as some sort of spiritual master. His “followers” would have made a new religion out of his blissful simple-mindedness, except that one day, for no real reason, Gump simply stopped running.
Like forgiving our past, if we release the world from bondage, no longer making demands upon our future, we become free. In this time of rather extreme confusion and uncertainty, imagine the blessing we have to offer our world if we accept what is. Remember the way Eckhart Tolle described “a new earth,” that we could bring acceptance, appreciation and even enthusiasm to the world, no matter what the appearance might be. Another instructive quote, attributed to the Persian mystic/poet Rumi: “Beyond the world of right and wrong, there is a field; I will meet you there.”
When we narrow our scope to the present, focused simply on what action we can make as a gift to ourselves and those around us, we find peace. My daily practice includes several hours enjoying our quebrada (mountain creek). I have conjured up a few projects that have no real point, much like Forrest Gump’s running. Simply I enjoy moving rocks around, shifting the flow of the water, witnessing the extremes of the current drought, as well as the torrents that come with a thunderstorm. In my imagination I can see myself enjoying this simple pleasure for another decade, or two, or perhaps even three. Each day is exactly the same; all I have is today.
Louis Bourgeois lives outside of Cuenca with his wife and young daughter at the Oasis Center. He teaches courses in Conscious Living and Conscious Dying. He is planning a one-day intensive course, The OASIS Experience: How to Know God. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org