“A gilded cage is still a prison, no matter how pretty.”
Do you ever stop to think about all the personal prisons we place ourselves in? Why do we do it? Why are we so afraid to break free?
One could argue that to view life as if we were locked in cages upon cages of our own making is to take the negative path. To see the self-imposed imprisonment as something limiting and destructive, instead of as a stable base one can draw comfort from, may seem negative but I prefer to think of it as practical. The dead-end jobs we work, the toxic relationships we continue, the apathetic acceptance of the shallow workings of society and the intellectual ceilings we throw up to avoid looking like a failure…these are all prisons that sap at our soul.
I’ve learned to break free from some of the prisons I put myself in. I cut out toxic friendships, changed jobs, joined protests and forced myself to keep on expanding my knowledge base long past the last day of college. I still don’t feel free, but the cages I’m in now are mostly the ones I can live with. Sometimes I feel like the prisons of other people encircle me and those can be hard to navigate out from. My biggest cage continues to be one made from not having financial security. It is a cage that stems from fear. Fear that what little I have will be ripped away from me, rendered useless by a disaster that re-sets the playing field. Fear that I will never be able to achieve the means to help others the way I want to and travel around the world to expand my knowledge base.
When I daydream about winning the lottery and having enough money to be able to quit my job, help out my family and friends and finally be able to travel the world, what’s really motivating this fantasy is my deep-seated desire for freedom. I don’t want money so I can be lazy and buy anything I want, I want to be independently wealthy so I don’t have to answer to a cold and heartless corporation. I want financial security so I can be free from the stress of never-ending bills. I want to be a millionaire so I can provide the opportunity for the hard-working people in my life to finally have a chance to catch their breath from the shit storm life has flung upon them. I want to have money so I can make sure my husband can finally take care of all of his health issues without having to worry about what hospital bill we can afford to pay this month and what procedure we need to put off till we’ve accumulated enough money in the HSA. I want to be free, free from the cage limited finances places upon a person, and one day I know I will be.
What about you? What cages keep you from your freedom?