Freedom to Suffer

One luxury I value highly is the freedom to decide how I want to spend my time. Baked into that statement is the idea that freedom enables “free decision making,” it is certainly a privilege to be able to decide what I want to eat for breakfast in the morning. But it is even more-so one to be able to choose how I want to spend my life. Whether or not you are bought into the idea of free-will, or rather “artificial free-will,” you would likely agree that today’s society is “more free” than ever before.”

Surely there are edge cases in which certain parts of society are less tolerant and more restrictive, but, in general, poverty rates are decreasing and the world is as fluid if not more open than ever before. 

We do, however, still have a long way to go in terms of “freeing the world.” There are still tons and tons of unfair barriers put in place by rich people that prevent a true meritocracy. I emphasize this to say that I do recognize the effects of inequality and other profiling that prevents people from being free. 

When measured on a macro level, though, I think people have more vertical and horizontal financial/social mobility than ever before. While talent, we can assume, is universal, opportunity is still not perfectly distributed. Though, I think it is closer than ever before. 

I want to bring this essay back around to the idea that “freedom” is an amazing thing. Often, people think of freedom as the freedom to talk, think, practice, etc. I think of that version too, but I also think a lot about how I value the freedom to make tough decisions. I really value failing…I value signing up for things and then quitting them the next day…I value second chances and re-building and losing. That type of freedom is very expensive. Most people cannot afford “do-overs.” Most people, to emphasize, throughout society, had one chance “at life” and if they mistakenly chose the wrong path they would be killed for their actions. 

Freedom to mess up is one thing. Freedom to suffer is another. 

I value the idea that I can go hiking if I want to. Hiking is really hard for me and it honestly hurts when I try and climb a big mountain.

But I love it.

I really like playing basketball and I really like that I have the freedom to do it. If I am being honest, though, I am always really sore after I play and it puts me through a lot of pain. 

But I love it. 

I love the idea that I can sign up for suffering because I recognize the value in it. 

I would hate to play basketball if I was forced to play 24/7. I would hate to hike everyday for the rest of my life on someone else’s accord. 

The freedom to suffer…the freedom to make decisions that are purposefully hard – that is nuanced and important to me. 

Also published on Medium.