I always found the lure of the ocean on a stormy day particularly tempting. There’s something wild and untamed about waves crashing against the shore. I grew up on a boat, so I know exactly the danger of those waves. I also know their force makes me come alive. It’s akin to sunbeams on hot days; when you feel your body almost exploding; unleashing unto the world. It’s as if your soul breaks free and goes for a wander. It’s on those days you cannot keep secrets. Because you feel there’s no need. You’ve burst out of the bud and into the world.
If you drink wine on such days “in vino veritas” is the truest statement there could ever be. Your tongue is loosened and what was once hidden is no more.
Growing up shy, scared that I was a nuisance to the world, scared to break my silence, I always loved the sun. It set me free. The ocean didn’t necessarily set me free, but it awakened my spirits and showed me the wilderness I so desired. The untamed ocean. And if spirits are awakened to their wilderness, the soul set free and the tongue loosened, you finally end up walking with your heart on your sleeve. Which is exactly the way it should be.
I felt really trapped growing up. I felt trapped by my circumstance and by own imposed boundaries; my own protective walls. I didn’t like myself very much and was convinced others didn’t either. So I got caught up in myself. Later, when reading Thérèse Raquin, I labeled it the Thérèse Raquin syndrome. To be captured by yourself. An African spirit in a frozen climate. Though I never considered myself African. I don’t feel at home here. I never have. But the children of Africa are my children, because they, like I are often lost, looking for love where they cannot find it. And by finding them I found myself. I healed. I broke free.
It was a long journey and it will never be done. But I am so much freer now. And love the African ocean and its powerful waves. I love the wildness. I love the untamed.
Since I was a child I mostly admired those I considered to have broken free. At first those who rebelled in obvious ways, though I soon came to realize that, that in and of itself is another form of prison. To be free is to do what your heart chooses at any one moment. To not worry. Not about life, nor about other people. Most rebels have angst, rather than love, driving them. Many want to be seen, as opposed to having their cause seen. Not all. Some are true rebels. Mandela started with angst and ended with love.
I became better at breaking free with the years. Yet, I started so far closed in that what felt like freedom was merely “a little bit freer.” I walked into a few traps along the way too. You think you’re doing great, but really you aren’t. You are faced with someone gossiping or backstabbing you and suddenly your walls are higher than a ten foot fence. You apply logic and retract. And suddenly you’ve taken ten steps back. Only you don’t notice. Because you are still five steps further along than you were before.
Or you set out happily with something, only to have old thoughts come in and overshadow the happiness. I set out as someone happy to be making a difference in South Africa. I ended up someone who thought no matter what I did it wasn’t enough, because I didn’t have enough resources. The inferiority I felt in childhood came back to haunt me. It seemed like outside obstacles, dealing with difficulties, but it was the inside all along. I did do enough.
I set out someone happy to explore my innermost dreams in a business only to become someone worrying about every step and working myself to the bone; constantly worrying about how far I’d gotten or what investors would say.
There was nothing left of me a few weeks ago because I’d worked so hard for so long, thinking it wasn’t enough. That nothing I’d ever do would be enough. Then something shifted. I broke completely free. I could really feel myself living without a three ton pressure on my shoulders of wanting to do more and be more. Joy returned to me.
The intention with my business and creative movie endeavors was always to give others joy. To make them see the beauty in life. Because I always treasured that. But maybe for the first time I could feel it. As if I lived it instead of watching it from the outside. As if I deserved some for myself.
I thought I felt like that before, but I didn’t. I just didn’t know. I caught glimpses. Because with each event that crumbled my walls they grew less imposing. Other events rebuilt some parts of the walls. And what I now think is free might not be as free as I am tomorrow.
I grew up a poet, but I killed my own poetry. Most of us do, to some extent.
Suddenly it’s not fear. It’s not over the top excitement. It’s not sadness for what has been. It’s just this sense of possibility. That things are possible. That you can live. Truly live. In every moment. Even I. Not just giving that gift to others, but actually doing it myself.
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