Archive for June, 2013

Oh, Freedom is Mine

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

“Stars when you shine, You know how I feel
Scent of the pine, You know how I feel
Oh freedom is mine
And I know how I feel
It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life,
For me, And, I’m feeling good”

….Nina Simone, Muse, Michael Buble and Daisy Chain

 “I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I used to think freedom was a life void of responsibilities, ties and obligations; the ability to do anything I wanted to do and go wherever I chose with whomever I desired without rules, without coercion and without  expectations.  Sounds a bit like anarchy, huh.  And, it sounds awesome. But it’s not true.  As I have grown up, I have come to understand freedom as so much more than that. 

After being diagnosed with cancer and choosing to help heal my body through diet, I went gung ho on the greens.  Wholeheartedly believing in the benefits of healthy eating, it was easy for me to pass up that filet mignon and say “no” to strawberry cheesecake.  Choosing green juice over a nice cold Corona was painless.  I felt strong and totally confident with my decision.  Nothing could shake me.

But after a while, I started to become resentful.  I was jealous of people that could eat and drink whatever they wanted without thinking twice about what they were putting into their bodies.  I was frustrated that I had to be in control and stay “in-check” at all times.  Parties, holidays and social gatherings became a reminder of what I could not do.  Even commercials and billboards of beautiful people eating fast food pissed me off.  Disheartened and frustrated that I had to live by different rules or shall I say so many rules, I felt like a landlocked mermaid.  It just wasn’t fair. 

I simply could not go back to life before cancer, however, eating and drinking whatever I pleased.  Believing there is a link between what we put in our bodies and cancer, I had to change my lifestyle.  I have met many cancer survivors who chose not change their diets (and they are happy and healthy) but I could not do that.  Like Einstein, I believed, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.”  I was not insane. 

So, how was I to continue to eat my greens and be at peace at the same time?  For it seemed pretty ridiculous to be on a diet that caused me so much stress.  And, I am sure it was not healthy to let the fear of eating a brownie consume me.  Truly that would not help my cause.  Dwelling on it would only cause me more stress and we all know what stress can do to our bodies.

So, I had to find a way to continue my vegan lifestyle and be O.K. with it.  I mean truly O.K.; mind, body and spirit all in sync.

Not until I came across this quote by Gandhi did I understand how I could finally be at peace with my choice.  Ghandi said, “Freedom doesn’t mean the absence of restrictions. It means possessing unshakable conviction in your choices in the face of an obstacle.”  

Ohhhhhhhh, I got it! Freedom is a state of mind and my state was still shakable. 

But before I continue, however true this statement is, I am not Ghandi!  Second, since a state of mind is defined as a temporary psychological state, maintaining true 100% “unshakable,” steadfast, unwavering, and unflinching conviction at all times is not only difficult, it is nonhuman. 

We all experience doubt from time to time.  For example, I am still not completely sold that changing my diet will keep cancer away.  I absolutely believe, without a doubt that it will help but I do not know for certain that it is the one true answer.  I know that there are many other reasons beside diet that people get cancer or that cancer will metastasize.  And, as long as I know this, my unshakable conviction is shaky.

And, I bet if you asked Mrs. Gandhi what she thought about her husband’s steadfast fast, risking death for a cause, and leaving her behind with the kids and bills, well she may have had a very different opinion.  I’m just saying.

In light of these facts, I do believe Gandhi was one rad dude.  And I would love to have the kind of 100% conviction in my belief that Gandhi had in his.  It would make my life a lot easier.  I also hope some day that I will reach the kind of enlightenment that Gandhi achieved.  But in the meanwhile, as I work toward the illuminated life, I will continue to remind myself every day that I am human.  I am not perfect.  I am doing the best I can with what I know.  I will try not to be so hard on myself or other people.  I will learn to let go and let live.  I will accept a bit of indulgence once in a while and not get mad at myself or let resentment set in when I falter.  I will also work hard on understanding that I will always have a bit of doubt hidden in the shadows but not to let that doubt sabotage my efforts.  And, I will always remember that any choice I make whether with 100% conviction or not, will either be a success or a lesson.  It will not be in vain.    

There is my conviction!  There is my freedom!