Is True Freedom Possible?
Once upon a time, when I was 12, I met an elderly American lawyer by the name of Mr Lawson-Baker. We bonded over the opera songs a street busker was singing at a lonesome strip mall in Perth, Australia.
He spoke of one book that profoundly changed his life: "How I found freedom in an unfree world" by Harry Browne; a best seller in the 70s. I never completed the book until now, but I believe our conversation inspired me to walk the curvy and unconventional road.
The book comes in three parts:
- Why you are not free: Browne talks about the different traps we set up for ourselves, such as the Identity, Intellectual, Certainty traps, among others.
- How you can be free: Here he offers alternatives to the traps that we are enslaved to. Some alternatives may be on the wacky side, but it makes for an intriguing read.
- A new life: The last section introduces techniques that can help readers transition into a life of freedom
This week, I read it from cover to cover for the first time and this is what I learnt:
- Harry Browne was a visionary ahead of his time. From the start, Browne tries to show us how we create our own mind traps. It's all about perspective, self care and self acceptance.
- "The free man is free because he recognizes his most priceless asset - sovereignty," Browne wrote. It's recognizing we have a choice. We are the ultimate decision makers of our own lives. Many best-selling authors have similar sayings.
- Napoleon Hill in Think and Grown Rich: “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
- Rosamund and Benjamin Zander in The Art of Possibility: “You can always grace yourself with responsibility for anything that happens in your life. You can always find within yourself the source of any problem you have.”
- My most important takeaway? Everyone is seeking their own happiness, each in their own way. Once we understand that, the first step towards a freedom from the urge to control (or change) others. Our best chance at being free is being reliant on ourselves and accepting of our own natures. When we are our true selves, things will fall into place.
So does it work? I don't know yet. I know I ought to try being more accepting of my own nature and that of others. After all, we're all just trying to find a piece of wild and beautiful in this life.