It’s May 11, 2018, when a warning enters my mind from someone outside myself.
“Be careful you are not settling for leeks and garlic when He has milk and honey.”
I’m no foreigner to the bible, so I see myself deposited into a scene alongside the wandering Israelites from several thousand years ago. The ones God rescued from Egyptian slavery. The ones who were left in limbo and never made it to freedom.
Why me, though? I’m certainly not trapped in slavery. I’m free to do as I please.
I live in a nice home. Drive a nice car. Live life with few demands placed on me, except for yearly taxes to the big establishment. I live a relatively calm existence.
Is this freedom, though?
I watched a movie last night released around the same time as the warning from 2018. A British film in which the main character has flashbacks from early childhood. In each scene, he is flying with his dog. Whether the glimpses are real or just a child’s wild imagination is unclear.
But eventually, his routine, mundane, safe existence gets the better of him, and he leaves to embark on a journey to find happiness.
I wonder if my journey is to release me from an invisible existence that’s locked me in, held me down, and tied me up with my permission.
Freedom is a word that is not always easily defined. Demographics alone can change its meaning. A western viewpoint may sense that freedom is about the right to do as we see fit, say what we want to say, not be told what to do. This definition sounds utopian unless it abuses someone smaller and weaker in the wake, which in my case and many told and untold others, hardly feels freeing.
I sense, though, the freedom reaching out to me is not from without but to free the little girl trapped within.
When I was three, my mom, sister, and I traveled across the Atlantic to the United Kingdom to visit my grandma. It was the only time we went to Europe, and my memories are moments from snapshots and stories.
One often told is when I decided to become a woman by shaving my legs with the razor left in the bathroom. I’m told I walked out into the room with a smile and cuts all down my little legs. I don’t remember.
I do remember having a huge teddy bear in tow, given to me by some relative, that was left there. Did I leave it voluntarily, or like many adults need to do when something is impossible, like transporting a large furry object that would take up entirely too much space, make promises to diffuse any emotional breakdown, “We will come back to visit Teddy.”
I remember we flew home in turbulence. The kind that caused the plane to go upside down. I see darkness over the large body of water, with ominous skies all around, with only the plane in view. The small portals are all empty and dark, except one lit up like a spotlight from above, looking down directly on the individual center stage. It is me, the three-year-old, peering out the window. She appears neither sad, happy, nor afraid. More stoic, possibly frozen in place and time.
Several years ago I address this moment, likely at a holiday gathering where all family is in attendance. Such a moment as this, of Denzel Washington proportions from the movie Flight, when the commercial airline also turns upside down and creates a firestorm of media attention, has me wondering why no one mentions our tumultuous moment.
I’m met with an eruption of laughter. You guessed it—this moment was pure imagination on my part.
I realize it was my life, not the plane, that was turned upside down.
Not long ago I hear a command enter my thoughts, spoken to me by someone outside me.
“Don’t put parameters around freedom, Josie.”
Am I the one keeping myself from freedom? Possibly out of protection?
I have decided to write here in this space for as long as need be, until I (and possibly you too) feel free.