This weeks post is partially taken from the photography challenges I wrote a while back. I’ve added a little more to this post, but if you enjoy the concept of the challenge you can download the other challenges here:
Freedom lies in being bold.
-Robert Frost(American poet, 1874-1963)
If you were to ask someone, “What does freedom mean to you?” What would type of responses would you get?
I’m sure you would get a lot of different answers. Of course, many of them would be similar as well.
In asking this question, perhaps you would be told that freedom is the right speak, act, or think as one desires. Or maybe not being imprisoned, enslaved or under tyrannical rule. Someone may mention the ability to move without restriction.
The list could go on and on depending who you speak to and what is going on in their life, or the world, at the moment.
However, I have a slightly different perspective on freedom.
Change is Freedom
For me, freedom is change. Perhaps this is a rather general definition, however, I like it because it is broad.
Change is the opportunity or ability to transform in some way. Freedom comes from the ability and opportunity to alter a current state. Unbound from stagnation.
If something is unable to or prevented from changing then it is not free. It exists in a inactive state. Bound to this inactivity it lacks liberty.
In regards to people and rights, rights allow for the potential for change. Rights provide opportunities and therefore, allow for change – freedom.
Change in Everyday Life
This idea of freedom as change can be applied in many ways.
A seed that grows and blossoms into a flower undergoes the stages of growth changes in each stage. In each stage it is no longer restricted to its current form. It is free to evolve and grow. Each of these changes are moments of freedom.
Water that flows freely in a river, rolling over stones, is in a state of constant change. It is never in one place, it flows and adjusts to its surroundings. Even as water evaporates, this change in form is freedom. It covers some common definitions of freedom as well.
If I am imprisoned, I am unable to change my location, unable to move. I am not free. When we learn and discover, we open our mind to change through thought and our mind is free.
Our ability to change our physical form through exercise is freedom. Not only are we freeing ourselves from our current physical state, but we are opening up abilities and opportunities to experience life differently. This allows other freedoms.
Education, both form and informal, is the changing of our mind. This is a significant type of freedom with immense potential.
Even death is freedom, as a process of change – an inevitable cycle of life.
Robert Frost’s quote on freedom in the beginning of this post implies that courage is a foundation of freedom. I agree. Often courage or boldness, whether conscious or not, is a necessary aspect of change and the attainment of freedom.
Change and a Free Mind
When you accept this reality of change we can experience kind of mental freedom.
Understanding that your current state is not forever is freeing. There is peace in knowing that whatever state you are in can, and will, eventually change. Even the most extreme conditions will not last forever, whether utter elation or immense sadness.
Although we may prefer happiness, the difficult times are what bring meaning to times of joy.
The contrast and interdependence of sadness and joy reminds me of Khalil Gibran’s poem “A Tear and a Smile.”
Khalil Gibran - A Tear and a Smile
I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart
For the joys of the multitude.
And I would not have the tears that sadness makes
To flow from my every part turn into laughter.
I would that my life remain a tear and a smile.
A tear to purify my heart and give me understanding
Of life’s secrets and hidden things…
A smile to be a sign of my joy in existence.
As I mentioned water and the mind earlier, I’ll leave you with a quote I adore, which I believe in essence captures the idea of change as freedom.
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
-Bruce Lee (martial artist, actor, director, philosopher, 1940-1973)
What is freedom to you? Take some time to think about it. Perhaps you agree with what you have heard or read before. Perhaps you will think of your own definition or definitions. Whatever you come up with your challenge is to now photograph what freedom means to you. It can be a photograph of that is a direct or literal translation of your definition. Or you can get more metaphorical and abstract. Maybe you find a creative and artistic way to portray the theme of freedom.
You can check out the other challenges in 5 Unique Photo Challenges for some inspiration. As well as, sign up for the Photography Insight Journal using the form at the bottom of the page to and notifications when a new post is up.