The beautiful work of Carolyn Abrams, this painting is named, "Freeing Her Spirit"

Years ago, I read an essay on aging, and the importance of finding our “freedom” at mid-life. The gist of this writing was that anything we felt was hampering us, we should leave behind, and move out into the world. At one point it said something like, get rid of your cat if that is the thing keeping you from this adventure. I would have believed that message 30 years ago, maybe 2o years ago….

What I have come to see, and know, is that it isn’t the outside stuff that hampers us, it is our thoughts. In my mid-forties, I gave away almost everything I owned to go work in a mission. I was trying to find inner freedom by stepping out of the “material” world. I blamed possessions, and the desire for them, for much of my inner turmoil and the troubles of the world. I wanted to devote myself to a higher calling and thought this was a part of becoming more spiritual.

It was a rude (very necessary) awakening. Having nothing doesn’t make you more spiritual, peaceful, happy or free. It doesn’t make you more helpful to those who feel disempowered and unable to earn a living. Freedom, at any age, comes from a change of attitude. This is the real mid-life call. The call to go inside and find the infinite within ourselves. To find peace and presence right here; in this house, with this car (or cars), these animals, friends, partner, or work, and not to blame them for our feelings of imprisonment. This is the real freedom.

“…the last of human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances….“. Viktor Frankl

A friend (thank you Judith!) send me a beautiful story and video yesterday about a baby bird that was found. At first, they needed to feed him every 20 minutes, but far from feeling like this experience was restricting, I felt the expansion in it…in them.

Baby Bird Cradled in My Hands

24 thoughts on “Freedom”

  1. Thank you Mary.

    The video is beautiful and indeed “expanding”!
    I remember reading Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search For Meaning” and being profoundly moved by his wisdom. Time for me to get that out for a re-reading.

    love from Fran

  2. How wonderful to live in amongst my wonderful Labradors, photos, books, fabric, yarn, projects and etc….everywhere inside and out…and be able to reach out or bring in and enjoy family and friends, to continually be learning, growing, opening, laughing, reflecting, and being… and to know all is okay…that I do not have to be grown up at age 18 as I thought prior to that age…and wondered when it would happen for many years after that age… and to now know it never will be time to grow up or be on that plateau…

  3. our attitudes can encase us like a prison…a lesson i learned, as you did, only with age. it is not the things, but the thoughts that free us. thanks for the succinct reminder today. best to you and all who read this fine blog.

  4. What a touching story and video of the baby bird Mary….there is a lesson in that for everyone and I have forwarded around to my friends. That little bird found his freedom…. only by the goodness of others who cared enough to take the time to make a difference. xox

  5. Yes Mary, you have done it again! It is our thoughts not our possessions that define us. If we amass enough we are somehow better or if we get rid of it all we are somehow purged. In the end what is left is us . . . who we are . . . no matter what possessions we have. I love the baby bird story! When I was little and living with my grandparents I found a baby bird and brought it home for Nana to “save”. We kept it in the oven (with the pilot light on) and Nana read up on baby bird care. She read that baby birds must eat worms or bugs that have been partially digested as they can’t digest a pure worm. Nana wasn’t about to chew up worms for the baby so I would mash up the worm and Nana would spit on it and down the hatch the mess would go. We named the bird Petey-dink and he actually lived for quite awhile. Makes me smile to think about him now.

    1. I hope my Petey-dink story didn’t offend anyone. I apologize if it did. After I re-read it it sounded rather crude. If you had known my Nana you would have known it was rather funny. She was such a dignified lady!

      1. It’s a sweet story; in no way offensive. But it did bring back the universal custom that mothers seem to use by wetting their fingers with spit when wiping gunk off a child’s face!?!
        Saliva: good for what ails ya—even used as a detergent and digestive!

      2. JoAnne F…..I thought your story was adorable. Your Nana sounds a lot like my grammy, and I could totally relate. I’m so glad you shared this! 🙂

      3. JoAnne, I love your story about the baby bird. Your Nana was right on! And I must admit to having used the lick and wipe with my kids when they were too young to object. haha!

  6. So sweet, Mary… and once again, you’ve hit it on the head. Thanks for the Viktor Frankl quote. The wisdom of those who survived the Holocaust never ceases to amaze me…. I surmise you’ve created a rush of people contacting their local library for Viktor Frankl books today.

  7. Mary, you’ve brought out a great truism once again. If we’re lucky, we come to realize that life moves along day to day, and what you bring into yours, whether it’s material things or not, is what you are making of it…and it’s all ok, because that’s your path.

    I lead a simple life and I am so grateful to be able to have the basic necessities. I am also grateful to have the presence of spirit to experience awe and compassion still, in today’s strange world.

    And I have been in awe of Viktor Frankl since my first read. Today’s gift was your bringing him back into my consciousness, making me remember the man and his message. Inspiration made flesh.

    So, thank you Mary, for these lessons today from you, from Viktor Frankl and from the compassionate rescuers of that tiny bird. Today’s post gives an enormous amount of treasure to us all!

  8. “Freedom, at any age, comes from a change of attitude.” I love that Mary. Even when living an enlightened life on a macro level, there are always those “any given set of circumstances” as Frankl says, on any given day, when I might feel trapped, or stalled, or stuck, or even in reverse. So I must think of this on a micro level as well…Change that attitude, that thought, that picture, and break out! Get in gear…keep movin’ forward…find the light…fly…

  9. What a way to start out a brand new week – to know that we hold the keys to whatever it is that imprisons us. We hold the keys. I loved the baby bird story and video Mary. It reminds us that we can make such a difference in the life of another living creature, and if “His eye is on the sparrow”, then surely God was smiling down upon this couple as they labored lovingly to save that little guy’s life. When you offered the quote of Frankl, I was reminded of another book written by a woman who survived the holocaust.

    I highly recommend it. The Amazon link states that Albert Einstein wrote to the author saying, “”You have done a real service by letting the ones who are now silent and most forgotten speak.” Perhaps she was able to restore them a small measure of dignity even in death, by telling their story. Maybe it’s never too late to free the imprisoned with our one single voice.

  10. Wow, this post brought me to tears. You are so right, Mary- freedom is right here and right now and our attitude.
    And oh, the baby bird video is priceless- I just loved it! More tears! At least they are all good tears. 😉

  11. Your friend would enjoy the book “Providence of a Sparrow” by Chris Chester. It is the story of another baby bird whose life started off the same way. There is no question that you can definitely love a creature that small. Birds are wonderful!

  12. A wonderful post today, Mary, about freeing ourselves from the inside out. The story and video of the baby sparrow is incredible and heartwarming. One of my favorite hymns “His eye is on the sparrow” is running thru my mind.

  13. I love your blogs, Mary. Regularly, one will ‘hit the spot.’ Today’s did. I found your experience about giving up everything and moving to a ‘nunnery’ to be enlightening. It’s so nice when someone else goes through the pain and I get to learn from it!

  14. I like your blog, Mary. Regularly, it ‘hits the spot.’ Today it did that. I found your experience about giving up all of your worldly goods and moving to a ‘nunnery’ enlightening. It’s always nice when someone else goes through the pain and I learn from it. You do that A LOT. Thanks!

  15. The Spirit moves in mystery ways: This is VERY timely for me. I’m glad you wrote this and shared it…I have needed these words much!!!!!!!!! Very much!!!!!

  16. Your quote by Victor Frankl touched me. Being from Vienna, I had the privilege of meeting him and talking to him once.

    It is always a pleasure to read your comments. Thank you.

  17. Love this story about Robin. I know the joy of raising such helpless creatures. A stray cat abandoned two kittens only a couple of days old and I bottle raised them. I also had to rub their tummies to make them poop and pee until they could do that on their own. Gave them baths (refused to lick them clean). They figured out grooming and the litter box themselves. We have been so closely bonded. One died a couple of years ago – he had the sweetest disposition. His brother, Zeke, will be 15 yrs old next month and is my shadow.

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