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Monday morning - some folks are making their way back to work. Others are taking another day of “freedom.”

 

 

courtesy of Gratisography

This past Independence Day weekend I was reflecting on what creative freedom means to me.

For me it’s a combination of personal - the freedom to live life my way and to spend it with who I want, location independence - the freedom to work where I want, and financial - the freedom to do work I love and the means to have all of the above.

“Freedom to me is a luxury of being able to follow the path of the heart, to keep the magic in your life. Freedom is necessary for me in order to create, and if I cannot create I don’t feel alive.” - Joni Mitchell

Most of us are working hard towards “one day” - that one day when we’ll finally be free to create art that we want to create and to do what we want. Only recently folks like Tim Ferriss and James Altucher have asked us to ask the question what if that "one day" never comes.

The Price of Freedom

Years ago I remember being asked about freedom in a humanities class. A student of the Arts Institute of Chicago created an exhibit where he burned the American flag. “Was this art?” asked my professor. “More importantly, is this the freedom of expression guaranteed by our forefathers in the Second Amendment?”

At the time I was in the middle of my ROTC training. Call it brainwashing. Call it what you will. Not only had I bought into the patriotism of Uncle Ronny, I caught myself one day chanting “jodies” with the marines about napalm and babies.

Yet I argued that even if we don’t agree with what the student was doing, this was the very freedom that I swore my oath of allegiance to protect. Such is the irony of freedom in this country.

Unlike other countries around the world where you were free to do what you wanted as long as it didn’t displease some authority, our nation was founded on this idea of “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..”

Be Careful What You Wish For

Here’s the kicker though - once we finally achieve our goals of freedom, this is what happens. We feel guilty. We feel guilty for taking time off when we think we should be working. We feel guilty for working when we should be spending more time with family and loved ones. We feel guilty for finally having the money to spend and enjoy the benefits of our hard work.

If we try to shrink back down to size - to conform to others’ expectations, we’re right back where we started. And so what was the point? Why did we go on this journey in the first place?

“the pursuit of happiness..” Those were the words we were promised - the opportunity, not a guaranteed reward. Only the promise that each of us will be given the opportunity to follow our bliss - wherever it may lead us.

Risk Before Reward

It’s not a journey for the faint of heart. In fact, it can be downright terrifying. Lately I’ve come to realize that the hero’s journey that Joseph Campbell talks about is the path that the Creative Entrepreneur must take.

There's no shortcut. In fact, it often looks more like this..

credit: Demetri Martin, This is a Book
credit: Demetri Martin, This is a Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s why stories resonate with us so much. “Artists use lies to tell the truth,” and the universal truth hidden beneath myths and legends is that as Campbell points out, “in the cave we fear to enter lies the treasure that we seek.”

What does freedom look like to you? How will you know when you get there at some level?

Be sure to join me in talking with film maker / indie entrepreneur George Ohan about his success secrets.