Friday, October 16, 2015

Whose Life Is Yours Anyway?

Here is a question for you to ponder. Who controls your life and your lifestyle? And that, relates to the main question of whose life is yours anyway?

Reality: No one is completely free and never will be.

Reality: There is always someone and/or some entity/entities that have certain degrees of control over your life and lifestyle.

So, how do you get to gain and/or retain the most control over your own life and lifestyle? Should you simply throw in the towel and accept that various forces outside your immediate influence can actually control significant facets of your life?

Least Amount of Freedom Scenario

Let's look at the worse case scenario. You have been incarcerated in some form of jail or penitentiary or possibly a mental facility for some acts you may have or, in an even worse case scenario, didn't commit. Every minute of your day is under scrutiny and all your actions are controlled. You are not free to come and go as you please, you can't even control what you may be allowed to read or watch on TV if TV is even allowed. You have no access to the Internet and visits are limited to specific times, for a specified duration and you are under observation.

In that case, effectively, your life is not your own other than what you may think to yourself, but not necessarily express externally. You have very little in the way of any human rights. Thankfully, very few people experience this degree of loss of freedom and life. It's one extreme.

Maximum Amount of Freedom Scenario

Swinging the pendulum to the other side of the spectrum, let's consider another scenario. You are single (unmarried) have no children you spawned. You own no real property. Everything you own you carry with you in a backpack and a small duffle bag. You have no transportation other than perhaps your feet and maybe a bicycle. You live wherever you are at the moment, typically in a tent or portable shelter of some kind. You do not have a regular job, a residential living situation, any credit cards or money in bank accounts. You don't even have a cellular phone. You are accountable to no one at anytime. You simply come and go as you please and live off the land and the kindness of others.

This might be about as close to being 100% in control of your own life and true freedom as one might be able to get. Some people may think this is too much freedom.

Somewhere In Between

Somewhere in between these two extreme scenarios is where most people dwell including you and me. My objective in life is to have the absolute least number of people and entities have any control over my life and my lifestyle. Most of us have lots of choices to make regarding who and what can exercise any limitations, restrictions and boundaries over us. Unfortunately, many and probably most make choices and decisions handing over that control to one or more other individuals and various entities.

I, once again, used the words choices and decisions. It's important that you don't misconstrue my meanings here. We each get to make choices and decisions about our lives and lifestyles. For example, we can choose to be married or single. We can choose to have children or not to have children. We can choose to be closely knit with parents, siblings and extended family or not. We can choose who our friends are and who are not our friends. So, here is a short list, you can add any others you choose, of people we can be involved with who can have various kinds and degrees of control over our lives and lifestyles:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Extended Family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, great grandparents)
  • Spouses
  • Offspring
  • Friends, typically close friends
  • Neighbors
  • Religious Leaders
  • Teachers, Professors
  • Co-workers & Colleagues
  • Clients/Customers
  • Bosses, Managers, Supervisors
  • Police Officers
  • Vendors
  • Etc.

And as surely as these individuals can exert various kinds and degrees of control over our lives and lifestyles, so can various entities including:

  • Federal Government
  • State Government
  • County Government
  • City or Town Government
  • Home Owners Associations
  • Banks
  • Mortgage Companies
  • Finance Companies
  • Civic Organizations
  • Religious Organizations
  • Corporations, Companies
  • Professional Associations
  • Unions
  • Educational Institutions
  • Law Enforcement Organizations
  • Insurance Companies
  • Etc.

In reality, both of these lists can be extended with many other categories. And, here's the thing, perhaps much of the time we don't even realize these people and entities have as much control over us as they do. And even more interesting is that we've made the choices and decisions to hand over this control, probably unconsciously. It just seems to be the thing to do.

Right Choices Or Wrong Choices

Now, let me be perfectly clear about this. No one else can make a judgment about the choices and decisions you've made and will continue to make in the future. If you are comfortable with your life and lifestyle, then regardless of who or what you turned over certain control of you life to, it's the right choice for you.

If on the other hand, you are not comfortable, feel imprisoned or enslaved (there is a difference), don't feel you have enough “you” time feel continually stressed, not looking forward to the next day, week, month or year, then you've probably made some wrong choices and you're experiencing the consequences of those choices.

Life is short. I have not read anywhere that it says we have to live our lives in an uncomfortable, feeling imprisoned or enslaved, tense, stressed constantly obligated or guilty state. Regardless of whether you are a religious person, a spiritual, but not religious person or a totally secular person (whether you believe in a supreme being or not) you were granted the miracle of your life to live it as you like and gain as much pleasure as you can. Once again, you define what pleasure means to you.

The more people and entities you choose (and you actually do make the choices) to hand over certain pieces of your life to, the less you own of your life and the more they own.

Whose Life Is Yours, Anyway?

So, this is the real question of this article and this hour. Is your life yours to live as freely as you please doing whatever you please at your own pleasure? Or, do you willingly or begrudgingly surrender significant parts of your life to any of the other individuals and entities enumerated earlier. Only you can know that answer. Only you can make the choices and decisions as to what you want from your life. Only you can determine the answer to “whose life is yours, anyway?” Ponder this for a while and perhaps you'll find it's time to make some new choices and regain some parts of the life you've given control away to someone else. Live free and be happy, EH.


John Abert said...

This hits home as to the way I felt during our recent sojourn up north, with plans being made behind my back and without my approval. And we can't forget vehicles, which often have a mind of their own and create unexpected plans for us! Being social means adjusting plans to meet, or at least compromise with others, and that also limits true freedom. In that sense, the only way to get away from such influence is to become a hermit! But the best most of us can achieve is (again) a compromise. As you said, true freedom is seemingly impossible to achieve.

Ed Helvey - Location Independent Traveler said...

Yes Sir, John --

You made my points, exactly. Most of us spend a significant amount of our life compromising. And, being a hermit is not within most of our plans. We really do need interaction with other humans. Striving for true freedom is a virtue, achieving it is probably not in the realm of reality. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained.


Richard Rosen said...

As is my wont, I’ll add a celestial perspective to freedom. There needs to be sufficient freedom in society and its culture to allow a person to become all he is capable of. Totalitarian government is the antithesis of personal freedom. “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is the inspired ideal that government needs to ascend to and maintain.

Choice precedes decision, meaning the choice of values determines our forward motion throughout life. The ideal in which those values are contained is what we strive to attain. It makes us into its image, but more than an image, the actuality of the ideal lived. That is why a person models his core beliefs; he lives them. It is why parents can say all they want to their children, but it is how they live their lives that influences them.

By contrast, decisions are made after the choice of a life path. Ethical and moral decisions result from having already chosen your ideals and its values. This assumes the ideals chosen are your highest conception of that which is true, good and beautiful. In religious terms, what would God think of your choice?