What separates the United States of America from all the other countries? Some would say that it is our wealth and power. Others would answer that it is our freedom.
We, as Americans, have the freedom of speech. We have the freedom of religion. We have the right to vote our leaders. We have the freedom to start a business and earn a living for ourselves. But if we think about it, what really is freedom and how do we achieve it?
It is 6:20 a.m. and I scramble out of my bed to turn off my alarm. My Monday morning is started off with a shower and a quick breakfast before it’s off to school. Whether I want to or not, I end up at school for 7 hours a day, five days a week. Then after school, I have to complete responsibilities. Chores, homework, and other small tasks take up part of my afternoon (1).
Then, after a couple of hours of recreation time, it’s off to bed just to do it all over again the next day. It is a constant repetitive cycle that seems to never let up. But I have a home, food, a good family and the opportunity to learn and hopefully someday a decent paying full-time job. Once my schooling is over, I will surely experience the life of freedom.
(Fast forward ten years.)
I look up at the clock.
“Only ten minutes has gone by?” I think to myself. “I’ll never get out of this place”
I’m sitting at my desk, staring blankly into my computer screen. It’s only my second month at the job and I’m already regretting my career. I’ve been processing reports, making phone calls, and setting up appointments since 6:00 this morning. I still have an hour and 20 minutes before I can go home and see my wife and daughter. Getting home at 4:30 p.m. is rough when your little girl goes to bed at eight. That leaves me about four hours a day to spend time with my family. We have a nice little apartment; it’s clean, pretty well furnished, and we have a full refrigerator.
That being said, I can’t complain about my life too much. At least I’m not a homeless man hitchhiking his way across the ‘states, right? At least I’m not like Phil.
Phil was the guy I picked up a few days earlier. He said he needed a ride to the gas station on the other side of town. It was right on my way to Oro Valley where I had an appointment that afternoon. He had hitchhiked his way from Dallas, Texas to Tucson, Arizona in three weeks.
He told me he wanted to end up somewhere in Northern California such as San Francisco or Sacramento. He had very little money from his job as a night-shift worker at a bar in Dallas.
But he desired a new life.
I begin to see the world through Phil’s eyes. He was out on his own. He didn’t have a time that he needed to wake up every day. When he experienced a town, he got up and made his way to a new one. He found ways to supply his basic necessities such as food and clothing. But he had no responsibilities. Nothing tied him down in an office 50 hours a week.
He was living the way he wanted to. He was experiencing his freedom. This changed my perspective on him, and also the way I viewed my own personal life. His life wasn’t worse than mine, it was only different.
Whether it is the comfort of a home, a family, and money, or the ability to live anywhere and experience many things; we all have that desire for our own interpretation of freedom. Sometimes we just need to see the world through someone else’s eyes.