For me, being free foremost means to be free of the limits of alcohol. But being free also means loving and living wild, with abandon, with enthusiasm for the world around you. Being free means living free of fear, regret, and doubt. It means learning to cope with pain, learning to truly live. Having a wild, free life means living with hope, curiosity, strength, and INTENTION. Being free means letting go. It means surrender. Not surrendering yourself, but surrendering to the beautiful mess of life, of living, of being an imperfect, but perfect in potentiality, human being. It means trusting your intuition, steering your own ship, trusting yourself to do what is right, what is worthy, what is great. Being free means growing every day, embracing change, exploring.
Drinking made me feel like I was living a wild, free life, a life of abandon and excitement, a “writer’s life.” In actuality, drinking made me the opposite of free. Yes, I was a wild thing under the influence but not wild like nature. I was wild like a car spinning out of control, staying up late and sleeping in late, a kind of wild that is not organic or true. Drinking made me feel like I was free because for the moment, the instant gratification moment, I was free of worries, doubts, fears, inhibition. But this freedom didn’t last, couldn’t last, because it was a faux freedom, a freedom that was not sustainable. This faux freedom only gave birth to more worry, doubt, fear, and inhibition. I would be free for the night and wake up in the morning not remembering or regretting what I did remember.
Without alcohol I am much more free. I am free to discover who I am, to wake up without a hangover, to live with intention, to choose what happens to me and how I treat others and myself. I am free to feel, a practice I avoided because to feel was often just too much. I am more free now because I have freed myself to a world of possibility. Possibility includes failure, something I used to be so scared of, but failure in itself is a kind of freedom. To fail means you can try again, try it a different way, to let go of what no longer serves and discover what does serve.
Living a wild, free life means to live with options and choices, to decide my actions with intent. I cannot control others or the world around me, but I can decide how I choose to respond, to react or not react, to let something break me or to just move on. For me, alcohol was the opposite of freedom because it chained me to outmoded belief about myself and the world. It caused me to be afraid, to self-medicate, to acquiesce rather than surrender. There is a difference. To truly surrender is to live in the moment, presently, coherently, to accept and love what is rather than struggle against what isn’t or to succumb to defeat.
To be wild does not have to mean staying up all night, throwing back shots or doing drugs. To be wild can mean to live with carefree abandon in the moment, to be open to possibility, to say yes with a clear mind and an even clearer heart. The true definition of wild means to be untamed, unrestrained, uncontrolled. I used to think that to achieve this wildness was to drink. But now to be wild is to be uncontrolled by a substance, to untether myself from a source of artificial relief.
So who am I, now that I’ve untethered myself?
I am a seeker, an observer, a writer. I am shy but in awe of people and our unique yet universal experiences on this crazy planet. I am curious, I am creative. I am sensitive but strong. I am fragile but capable of so much more than I give myself credit for. I am a student, I am learning everyday. I am a recent college graduate, but I will always be a student of the world, of philosophy and spirituality, culture and art, music and literature. Yet there is, and will always be, so much I do not know. I am driven by a thirst for knowledge, of a will to see, to feel, to live. I am a world-weary traveler, but I am also a bright-eyed optimist. I am a lover of love and grandeur, of simplicity and compassion. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, girlfriend, best friend. I am so many things that do not define me but do nonetheless.
I am also sometimes afraid, though I remind myself that fear is not real, that fear represents a lack of love. I am a believer in the power of love, of compassion, truth, and dignity. I have just recently returned my faith to a kind of code of honor that I lost along the rocky road of drinking my fears into oblivion, which in the end only magnified my fears. I am learning how to be myself, I am learning who my self is, and for the first time. I am on the brink of discovery, often exhausted but ready, ready to discover who dwells within. I am hopeful.
Tell me, who are you? What does living wild and free mean to you?
I wish you a wild, free life.