" Synchromysticism:
The art of realizing meaningful coincidence in the seemingly mundane with mystical or esoteric significance."

- Jake Kotze

April 17, 2012

Am I Really Chasing Freedom in the Game of Life?

I wrote about how a bird synchronicity drew my attention to a Jonathan Franzen novel called Freedom, which I had purchased after hearing the author talk at the Brisbane Writers festival last year.
Freedom, Just for the Birds?
 Well, I've just finished reading it and have to say that I didn't think a fictitious novel could be so life changing in my outlook.
It's not so much the story that is told, but the way the author tells it.
The story revolves around a 47-year-old guy called Walter and his quest to save a tract of forest in the States and another tract in South America to help preserve the habitat of the Cerulean Warbler ... the bird pictured on the front cover of the novel.
The part I find interesting about the novel though is how Franzen analyzes all the characters in the novel, giving their motives for nearly all the decisions, conscious and unconscious, that the character makes in their journey through life.
Which had me thinking about all my life decisions and just how conscious or unconscious they were in hindsight.
We think that we have a great deal of freedom to choose where we head in life, but how true is that line of thinking in reality? 
There is always a consideration to weigh up in most of life's decisions, which tend to force our hand in which direction we take down life's road.
Freedom shows the kind of thinking that tends to influence our moves through this game of life and just how much freedom we really have.  
For instance, when I got married, I thought how good it would be to live in Sydney for a few years maybe, or maybe somewhere like Byron Bay.
But my wife was very close to her family and would never dream of leaving Brisbane.
So, for me to pursue that dream I had basically two choices, stay in Brisbane and raise a family ... or try and move to Sydney, or Byron Bay and probably end up divorced.
But we make, or try to make decisions like these on a daily basis when you think about it ... and I'm not just talking about me ... I'm talking about you, too.
That's if you are totally honest with yourself.
We either comply with other people's wishes, or we rebel against them.
 Life is never as simple as spinning a wheel and moving ahead two or three places on the "Game of Life" board.
Freedom is more like that elusive carrot dangling in front of us...we better know what is really motivating us to chase it, and what we are going to do with it if we ever catch it.
1. The condition of being free of restraints.
2. Liberty of the person from slavery, detention, or oppression.
3.a. Political independence.
   b. Exemption from the arbitrary exercise of authority in the performance of a specific action; civil liberty: freedom of assembly.
4. Exemption from an unpleasant or onerous condition: freedom from want.
5. The capacity to exercise choice; free will: We have the freedom to do as we please all afternoon.
6. Ease or facility of movement: loose sports clothing, giving the wearer freedom.
7. Frankness or boldness; lack of modesty or reserve: the new freedom in movies and novels.
8.a. The right to unrestricted use; full access: was given the freedom of their research facilities.
   b. The right of enjoying all of the privileges of membership or citizenship: the freedom of the city.
9. A right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference: "the seductive freedoms and excesses of the picaresque form"  
(John W. Aldridge).
I guess this novel has made me reevaluate my idea of living a life of freedom and what the consequences of all that entails.
Life's decisions are a lot harder to make than the spin of a wheel or the throw of a dice.
 Yes, in a way I am free to do what I want, but I know there is always a price to be played down the end of life's toll road and I have to anticipate if I will be happy to pay it when I get there.
Which brings my thoughts back to a Derren Brown video I once saw;
So, even when we think the idea is ours and that we are free to come up with whatever comes to mind, maybe we aren't as free to choose as we thought we were ... without being influenced by the thoughts of those around us, that is? 
I found Jonathan Franzen's novel a thought provoking read indeed.
It's like reading about the game of life, while filtering it through your mind, heart and stomach.
It may not be your life that you are reading about, but the same techniques and consequences certainly apply.
 Your spin;-)


  1. I think we are free but we are kept in check (or hampered) by our emotions / feelings. The only way to escape is to be a single traveller with no baggage. I have 'baggage' (wife, children, grandson etc) and these restrict what I do and when. Because of this there are things I may not see/achieve. Though freedom may be a state of mind there can be more to it than this.

  2. OK, now I'll read this book. I agree with Mike about "baggage." Yet, at the same time, we choose our baggage and isn't there a certain freedom in that? In the choice itself?

    1. Agree, they are self imposed 'baggage' - which I wouldn't want to discard! We make our choices, which I agree is a freedom, but some choices are still restrictive or cause restriction.

  3. I agree that we are free in our choices to a point,Trish.
    But my question is how free are we especially then we think we are free to make our own choices like the guys in the Derren Brown You Tube above?
    They thought they were making a free choice when drafting up the advert,but they were manipulated beforehand by Derren and ended up basically drawing everything he wanted them to draw.They were free to come up with their own ideas,but Derren got to their subconscious by conditioning them beforehand and it was always unlikely that they would override the subconscious when they didn't know about the triggers embedded beneath their conscious thoughts.

    I think as in that example,that there are certain trigger points in our life
    (that we may well of agreed to before incarnating)
    that steer us into certain unavoidable life situations while giving us the illusion of choice.
    For instance,my meeting and marrying my wife and having to boys with her.As free as I like to think that I was to not marry her and have two boys with her,my gut feeling tells me this was always going to happen,no matter how free a choice I thought I had made,because this decision I feel was made on a much higher level than my earthbound consciousness could ever hope to outwit.
    I may be wrong,but that is the strong feeling I get the more I think about it.
    Some things in life are almost impossible for our conscious selves to outmaneuver,like our true date with death,for example.Because I feel these things are well out of our hands down here,to avoid.