Has it ever happened to you? You read or hear something, and the words resonate like an echo for weeks afterward? That is exactly what happened to me after reading last week’s quote of the week by Harriet Tubman, “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
Not only has that quote stayed with me all week, but it wore boxing gloves giving me a right hook to the jaw. “Am I a slave and don’t know it?” has been the question I’ve been asking myself for the past five days, and in so doing, have been parrying the punches of reality.
Of course, I’m not referring to the word ‘slave’ in the traditional sense - one who is owned as the property of someone else, especially in involuntary servitude (i.e. human trafficking. This is a very real and important issue and my intention is to not downplay this practice).
The form of slavery I am describing is the one in which someone is completely subservient to a dominating influence. Many of us, if not all, are often controlled by a specified object such as money, technology, fear, fame, self-improvement, drugs or time. I know for certain that I’m held in ‘voluntary’ servitude to more than one of these forces. And much like Harriet Tubman stated, most often, I am totally unaware how much I recklessly keep myself dominated by these influences. (Until, that is, I see a hand in a boxing glove aiming toward my face.)
Frequently, we measure happiness by these things that keep us enslaved. For example, we sometimes work to obtain money versus working for satisfaction. We sometimes use technology to escape from the demands of every day life, only to find we have eliminated one on one contact with each other. And, sometimes the natural instinct to be cautious turns to fear, which can paralyze us, preventing movement forward into the unknown.
Money, technology, and fear are all useful resources and, without a doubt, help us to live fully. But if we are not paying attention, these things can also silently rob us of our freedom - the freedom to make a life, meet new people, and explore new thoughts and landscapes.
I wish I could offer some amazing solutions that can help prevent us from tripping and falling into that rabbit hole but, with perhaps the exception of a one-two punch in the face, most of these sorts of lessons are learned in our own individual ways, one step at a time. The awareness itself, may prevent us from falling too deeply into that trap.
The only possible solution I can suggest is to read some of the many wonderful self-improvement websites and books that are abundantly available. I have plenty of books to share with you. In fact, I have shelves and shelves and….Oh wait. I feel another right hook coming my way.