The Winding Path to Freedom
Sometimes I feel like I’m swerving left and right just to hold my line on the road, but at this moment it feels like I’m tracking straight without too much of an intervention. In these moments of relative calm I am reminded the path to freedom is non-linear and filled with overcorrections. Sometimes we will be left and swing a bit too far right. Sometimes we will be down and rise up a little bit too high. Experiencing these overcorrections is a part of life and learnings, and identifying them is part of the path to liberations. Three types of overcorrections are on my mind today: spiritual, material, and geographic.
For one not raised in a culture valuing spiritual concerns, some flavor of dissatisfaction is the standard impetus for beginning a spiritual journey. Light spiritual practices may entail downloading a meditation app or going to yoga. For many that’s enough, but others will want more. The next step might be a deeper meditation practice or learning a more involved like discipline like Qigong. I know many people who get to that stage, and fewer who stopped there. Though a daily breath, movement, meditation practice may be the sweet spot of spirituality for most people, the initial dance with those states is a point of immense temptation to go deeper. Soon, many find themselves drawn to different flavors of intense spiritual practice like Kundalini, Vipassana, and the many styles of tantra.
I am not claiming that those practices are always overcorrections. For many, intense is the sweet spot. I may be one of them. But for many others, those practices are taking it too far. The only way to know that, however, is to experience it, and realize that for oneself. What is true in the spiritual realm is paralleled in the material.
The Buddha started with everything and went to nothing, materially speaking. The Theravada teaching of the Middle Path tells us that that was an overcorrection. The Buddha’s path was quite extraordinary though, in that most start not with everything, but with much closer to nothing. The more common experience is to start with little. For those who attain a path of material ascendence, the more common overcorrection is the misery of too much.
The material excess of South Beach is a playful ode to this. Lambos, designer clothes, and cosmetic surgery are on display everywhere. Note that I do not perceive is that bad. Instead, I see it as essential. I love this aspect of humanity for what it is a part of the path. But we can also call a spade for spade. Collins Avenue of South Beach is a necessary temple to overcorrection. Some get stuck here. Not everyone realizes that they have overcorrected, and sometimes it’s hard to tell.
When it comes to geography, I am still unsure as to where to land. Miami is growing on me. This is a land of freedom, fun, and institutionalized flamboyance. The latter two are nice, but the freedom is biggest draw. Miami in many ways feels even more free than Texas, and freedom and liberation are amongst my greatest goals. But, is the feeling of freedom and a near total lack of rules and constraints really the type of freedom I desire? There are other types of freedom, like a freedom from attachments. That may be far important.
This is why the path to freedom is winding. Miami may be an overcorrection. It may not be. The truth is that at any one time we cannot see all of the dimensions. Time and experience reveal the edges of our journey that nudge us towards clarity.