By Mr. Free Spirit
Good Afternoon Readers:
I stated in my July article that I would not be doing another article until September because I would be in BVI during the month of August. However, the publisher of Black men in America.com called me and requested I do a Podcast and Radio interview before I left. I did agree to either or both, however when you’re being interviewed you never know what question(s) will be asked. In my past professional life we use to have mock question and answer sessions to be totally prepared. Therefore, I decided to develop some facts about me that you could read and the interview would stay on track as the purpose of the column.
What does it mean to be a Free Spirit?
People often have a very limited, stereotypical perspective on what it means to be free-spirited. If you truly want to be a free spirit, keep the following in mind.
Understand what it means to be free. Society likes to serve us up a very narrow interpretation of what constitutes a “free-spirit.” Images that immediately come to mind are the globetrotting bohemian, the manic pixie dream Man, the free-wheeling artist, the minimalist philosopher, or the co-op-inhabiting environmentalist or a columnist for Black Men In America.com. Maybe your vision of free-spiritedness was defined in high school by that tattooed, trilingual, guy who never failed to remind people of how many countries he’d been to when, really, it was the quiet, nerdy Man who spent every lunch break in the library who couldn’t care less what you thought about him. Instead of falling into the trap of molding myself to some predefined role, live my life as a free agent and not afraid to contradict myself. If this means you wear hemp one day and leather the next, I may hang out with clubbers, but that is always short.
Pursuing my passions. Being free-spirited means having the courage to not only follow my dreams, but also take the time to figure out what they really are – which is arguably much more difficult. Maybe I’ve given up on getting that master’s in some new studies because I was afraid it isn’t practical. Maybe some of the occurrences in my life unleashed an inner desire in me. I had burning desire to go into real estate. I took the time to unearth a secret passion that maybe I didn’t even know I had – and then I took that plunge.
Sometime you let go of whatever is holding you back. This entails a lot more than thinking about all the ways that The Man is keeping you down. If a bad experience has left your faith in people broken, rebuild your strength until you’re able to get close to people again. If a strict upbringing has left you with little sense of who you are, work on stripping away these artificial layers to find what’s underneath. And of course, don’t forget to think about the ways that you hold yourself back, I had to really work on that.
Maybe you have a tendency to play the victim and revel in your own misfortunes. Maybe you’re a hopeless romantic who keeps making the same relationship mistake over and over. Maybe you’re afraid of asking for help because everyone expects you to be strong all the time. Only when you’re brutally honest about the barriers in front of you can you find solutions for moving past them.
Let go of whatever you’re rebelling against without a higher purpose. If your sole motive is to react against a system, whether it be political, religious, social, parental, communal, environmental, or anything else that might rub you the wrong way, I was allowing that system to dictate my behavior. Disliking something simply because it’s conventional is just as mindless as liking it for that same reason. On the other hand, rebel if there is a higher purpose, a higher ideal. I was born to make a better world, not to leave it intact.
I live in the moment.
It’s easy to spend so much time in your own head that you never actually connect with the things around you. Maybe you’re playing out fantasies, arguments, or zombie apocalypse scenarios in your head when you’re supposed to be having a conversation. Maybe you’re trying so hard to imagine how you look to the people walking past you on the street that you don’t even notice what a gloriously sunny day it is. I engage with the people, places, and things around me on a deeper level than before and I now find that my reactions to them is suddenly a lot more authentic.
I’ve learned to keep my ego in check. There’s no denying that people who do their own thing have a magnetic effect on those around them. This, of course, is a slippery slope. If you have success in your adventure in being a free spirit, resist the temptation to self-congratulate, it over those you perceive to be “in impressing than being, everything I’ve been working toward will disappear. Conventional,” or keep the people you attract on a leash with your charming unpredictability. Remember, I wanted to be a free spirit, meaning my thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors will be coming from a deep place within me. Ego is the death of authenticity; once you become more interested
Honor other people’s freedom. Free-spiritedness isn’t about promising one thing and doing another, getting whatever you want without paying your dues, showing up to every date a half hour late. Remember that your freedom ends where everyone else begins. I always remind myself that the opinions of others don’t matter. That’s the central point of being a free spirit, so I try to embrace it fully.
In closing let me share this: “The past is a place of reference, not a place of residence.”