Tag Archives: UCSC

Freedom looks different to each person

9 Feb

“Freedom is a pretty strange thing. Once you’ve experienced it, it remains in your heart and no one can take it away.” – Chinese Artist Ai Wei Wei

Across the world there is a multitude of confines that place limitations on our bodies and our expression bc of political, patriarchal, and/or corrupt reasons. I simply don’t want to talk about that right now. It is my responsibility to acknowledge that it exists. It is your responsibility to understand the many ways in which it happens everyday, almost everywhere.

I relate to Ai Wei Wei’s expression, not in a political sense, but in a spiritual sense. The first thing that came to mind when I heard this was the way in which i have felt the most free when I am out in nature. If you have the opportunity to leave the city and visit a forest, a mountain, a river, or a cliff overlooking the ocean, then you know that the fresh air you breath satisfies more than your lungs. There is calmness in the mind from a walk into a damp forest that crosses a creek whose running water makes that mellow melody of water over rocks and pebbles. That moment when you decide to take off your shoes and let your feet touch the cold water is freedom.

Freedom

I have been fortunate to travel, backpack, snorkel, hike volcanoes, and make my own fires for warmth. I have tasted sweet, clear running water from rivers that fill as the sun melts the snow on the mountain i can point to. I’ve been tumbled and lifted, cradled and cleansed by ocean waves that make me feel weightless. I have felt powerful in my arrival to lost lakes and morning dawns after the pain and struggle of mile long uphill terrains. I have felt freedom this way.

Having found freedom in nature is the reason why my spirit always feels a sense of deprivation when my body resides in the city. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. When I was in high school i wouldn’t ditch to go smoke or drink at some kick back, i would jump fences and go boogie boarding at the beach. I would go swimming or visit the Friendship Bell in San Pedro and look out to Catalina Island. This innate necessity for freedom is probably what led me to go to college in Santa Cruz. I escaped South Central at 18 to fall in love with a redwood forest.

I’m going to leave this city… again and again. I really will. Im always planning my escape. When I finish grad school I am going to live some place tucked between hills and ocean. I will have trails and bike paths that cross rivers and hot springs. I am going to find my piece of freedom outside of this city.

Until then… I suppose i will “vacation” in far away lands, “retreat” to local mountain sides, and keep on hiking the local trails of Eaton Canyon and smog filled Griffith Park.