My freedom was like a bladder. That’s how I perceived it, as an inflatable sac or pouch which held the elusive concept of my ability to make choices. The bladder was like a protective casing which shielded me from the buffeting annoyances of restraint.
During this time when I believed freedom reigned inside the absence of restraint, I looked at the world and saw that my neighbor utilized his free will and I wanted to do the same, for my neighbor appeared happy and I wanted to be happy too. I worked diligently to fill the protective casing with consumption, a boundless feasting of food and earth and pleasure and every thing known to man. I absorbed life with as much speed and avidity as my neighbor, but my neighbor always had more. For the sake of spite I increased my desire for more.
An amplified sense of entitlement snapped the yoke off my arrogance. Before long I was full of satisfaction of self and somehow, I was empty. Bitterness turned to anger, then rage, and then fury. My life was different; I had changed, and nothing was as I had thought it would be. I stuffed my growing disappointment inside the remaining crevices of my perceived freedom. I topped off with a touch of idleness, and a dash of languor.
Each of my decisions had fit neatly inside my concept of freedom. Never had the bladder overflowed. Unfortunately, I had devalued the power of these actions and ignored their gaseous qualities. I failed to appreciate their tendency to stretch, and rise, and bloat. The sac expanded. Extreme pressure crowded against the outer wall of my perceived freedom. I ached in body and soul.
Body and soul ached and moaned.
The protective lining continued to bloat, and rise, and stretch, and soon reached its outer limit. I moaned from fullness. I mourned for more. A lust-shaded thought flittered across my mind. The thought was brief and tiny like a flash, or a ping, or a zip. The thought was random and irrelevant. The thought was enough.
The explosion blew my perceived freedom to smithereens. I tried to protect my ears, but my attempts were futile against the shrill of my deflating ego. Fragments and bits and shards—all that remained of what had once been my life—settled about my feet. I choked on a loathsome cloud of wrath. Slimy glistening goo of envy dripped from the sides of my face, from my thoughts, and from my distorted perceptions. The bladder, or pouch, or sac, or casing—was gone. Perhaps it was never there.
The burden of calcified gluttony clung to my flesh. Greed, sloth, and lust coiled my limbs like a boa, constricting. I could not move. I could hardly breathe. Shame encircled me like a wreath. I felt an overwhelming desire to run and hide, like David when he had fled to the caves. Like David when he had grown weary from outrunning his enemy, and had grown full of a yearning to flee, or fly away. Except the only enemy I wished to flee was me.
I could not run. I could not hide.
I fell to my knees and wept. For a great length of time I cried out to the Lord and wept. The Lord spoke to me, not in a voice I could hear out loud but one I could hear inside my head. He said only three words. “Give up everything.” Perhaps He had said four words, “Give up every thing.” I’m not entirely sure because the moment was fleeting and the voice was not one I could hear out loud but one I could hear inside my head and not clearly understood.
I stared dumbly at the smoldering stillness. Then I unclenched my fists one rigid finger at a time and I let everything go. And then, while the world continued to spin at an ever-increasing pace, I flattened my palms and let go of every thing. I let the world continue to spin without me.
And finally, I was free.
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