I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom lately. What it means. What it feels like. What it is to each of us. Why we still feel trapped even with all of the opportunities that we have. This is also the journey of mental health. Sometimes when you’re a little stuck, you have beliefs that don’t jive with how you really feel (even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time) and you don’t move forward. You keep yourself in a state of misunderstanding and don’t see why you’re there. You can’t see past your own cage. But this is also a cruel irony because we are often put in that cage and told that’s where we belong so we never bother looking for a way out. Other times we are too scared to leave for whatever the reason may be. Telling someone in a state of fear (especially someone who has been that way a long time) that they are able to step out of the cage all on there own isn’t something they can process.
I’ve been reading Matthew McConaughey’s book, Greenlights and it is absolutely fascinating to me. I’ve never really been a fan of the actor—not that I have any complaints about his work or any room to judge at all—but his work isn’t something I actively seek out. That changed when I saw this book. I knew nothing about him other than he has a friendship with Woody Harrelson and he’s done some decent work in his days. But this book. As soon as I saw it I picked it up. That isn’t unusual for me when it comes to reading material—I always follow my instincts with that 😊—but I was surprised it was THIS book. I’m about half-way through it now and I am captivated. Learning about how this man has lived his life, the adventures he’s taken, the things he’s done that encompass my definition of freedom have touched something in my core.
McConaughey describes his life and the adventures he’s had as well as demonstrates his perseverance and commitment to himself and his policy on livin’. The idea of living life as an adventure is something I dream about nearly every day. The time freedom and the capacity to go wherever I want on a whim and to see the world, really experience the world is something that takes a huge space in my mind. The other aspect of that commitment to self is what really speaks to me. McConaughey clearly knows who he IS. There is no question about his foundation. And he has no fear about being that person or any compunction about displaying that person. That is the type of person I want to be: so fearlessly centered in who I am that walking away or running toward something doesn’t bother me because I know in my soul it is the right thing to do. No question.
His entire concept of Green lights is fascinating as well. It’s actually something I’ve talked quite a bit about in my own work, I just didn’t explain it the same way. It’s that state of flow, it’s that knowing, it’s that alignment, it’s being where you are supposed to be—and knowing you’re supposed to be there. It’s that taking your hands off the wheel and just…livin’. I’ve been graced to experience that a few times in my life. It literally feels like a summer day. McConaughey actually describes it like that as well—he says, “It’s like walking barefoot on a summer day.” We all seek the ease of that feeling.
So why do we put the pressure on ourselves to stay in the cage? Is it merely the familiarity and the social conventions? Or is it that we aren’t taught to develop that type of relationship with ourselves? I’m not sure. From the stories I’ve been reading in this book, it seems like his relationship with his parents was foundational in accepting himself. At moments, however, it seems like that was never a question regardless—he was born with an innate knowing of who he is. The thing is we all are. We all are born that way but we start to forget it as they close the cage around us. Hell, even if it’s open, we still forget that we have the ability to leave. I don’t have the answer to that at the moment, but it’s something I’m working through. For now, I’m listening to the message and I’m taking the parallels in the messages I’m reading as a green light that I’m on the right path. I’m taking the alignment I can find and embracing it. One. Step. At. A. Time.