A friend on Facebook posed a question yesterday: “What freedom in your life are you most grateful for?” I confess, I clicked the little button to get notified of comments before I left my own, because I was struggling to figure out how to answer. However, none of the answers being given satisfied me, so I continued to think on it. (I LOVE it when a question posed on social media makes me think. I think its one of the best parts of social media in general.)
My initial response was going to be, “Freedom to be me.” But I held back on that. Because while there is no laws governing the land stopping me from being me. However, there’s social norms, peer pressures and expectations that might stop someone from being themselves.
I’ve often considered myself something of a chameleon, which has benefitted me more times than I can count. But I do have those things that are intensely important to me, and I find myself often having to squash those things to fit in to various situations. I’m legally free to be me, but socially I’m often not. (And I know anything I experience is nothing compared to what many others face…)
That being said, I have to share this gem of an event my husband and I discovered recently. The American Legion 82 in Nashville holds “Honky Tonk Tuesday Nights” every Tuesday Night, and has apparently being doing it for years! I’ve lived here 12 years, and a couple weeks ago my husband and I went for the first time.
My husband is a big fan of songwriter Jim Lauderdale, and has been for years. He introduced me to his music (most of which I already knew… just not the writer behind them) and he’s been on my radar ever since. So when I saw Lauderdale was the headliner, and it happened to land on a week when my husband wasn’t on the road, I decided we had to go.
What we discovered was this safe haven of sorts for people who might get a funny look in downtown Nashville. People from 4 years old to 80 years old all out on a small dance floor in an old American Legion Hall. AMAZING music being performed from an unassuming stage with the backdrop an American flag made of lights. The night started with everyone saying the Pledge of Allegiance. There is a MIA/POW table set in the corner.
I felt like I’d stepped back into the ’70s as cowboy hats, boots, sun dresses, pearl snap shirts and Wrangler jeans were the common attire. There were no bachelorette woo girls, but there was a table full of high school girls showing they know how to two-step and aren’t afraid to admit they love old country music. There were no ripped jeans, Vans and t-shirts on stage. Instead there were sharp ironed button-downs with fringe, and perfectly-fitting jeans over cowboy boots.
I felt safe, and I was made to feel so welcome. I left giddy to come back soon.
I left feeling like I’d been free to be 100% myself for the night.
So do I have the freedom to be me? Technically yes. But in practice, often that answer is, “Not really.” It is what it is. Its an imperfect world. We are imperfect people.
What I ultimately decided on as my answer was, “The freedom to dream big, and to be able to pursue those dreams.”
My husband and I dream big. We ARE dreaming big and slowly pursuing those dreams. And we are 100% free to do that. Its exciting. It’s terrifying. It’s intensely our own.
Money is often our biggest hold-up. Money and time. But we are also free to work to make money, and sometimes we have to just make the time. Someone telling us no, doesn’t mean they’re stopping us from dreaming. It doesn’t mean we stop. It just means we need to adjust, and keep going. A door closes, you find another one to open.
You’re free to dream. Dream big. Dream small. Dream all the dreams. Dream of a better world. Dream on a better life. Dream of things to be simpler. Dream whatever you want to dream.
All of the greatest things in the world started as just a dream.
Work your tail off to make those dreams come true. Recruit others to help you make them come true. Or maybe quietly work on them in your kitchen at your table. Whatever you do, dream and do. Dream and do. THAT’S the greatest freedom we have, in my opinion.