People are really surprising. Each person has so much experience that feeds who they are in the moment. There is always something new to learn from them.
Recently I was having dinner with friends. One had a really big burger. The woman on the side said, “that’s really huge.” The man between them said “thank you”. The innuendo was surprising, and it made me laugh.
One quality that I value–freedom. Freedom has different meanings in different contexts.
The generic meaning of freedom is to not have the political system controlling what you can do or say. The Soviet Union would punish dissidents so that their citizens couldn’t express their feelings freely.
Another sort of freedom is to be able to decide where you live, who your friends are and what kind of work you do and who you want to be employed under. Freedom to make and act on decisions is more valuable than what one could believe and promote politically.
My friends demonstrate a different sort of freedom. They aren’t constrained to have stereotyped and one-dimensional reactions. The ability to be surprising is a powerful form of freedom. If I make a decision in the moment, I could either do what I normally do out of habit, or I could do something new.
In the past, I was a finicky eater. I wouldn’t try new foods because they looked different or they weren’t familiar. Now I’ve changed my attitude. I take the opportunities to try new foods. The things that I like now are much broader in scope than what I used to eat. I have more freedom because I can accept new things in my diet.
Freedom can be taken to extremes. If I make new decisions freely, I could pick things that work against me instead of for me. I could sabotage an interview and lose the chance for a new job possibility. That loss could cascade into many other consequences. I might not meet someone who could have become a lifelong friend. I might not be able to support a charity for a cause I’m passionate about.
Freedom can be good and I think usually it is, but it can still be harmful if used unwisely. Finding the location of this transition is a challenge. Where the boundary is can evolve over time.
My friend’s joke was an example of him taking advantage of a creative process to make us laugh. I am not so spontaneous. I like to think before I speak. Perhaps the caution comes from a lack of security. I’m afraid that someone won’t like what I say–I might offend someone or they might not like me anymore–that’s what goes on in my head. This is an area that my freedom could increase.
With self-confidence I can become more spontaneous even though I might say the wrong thing or embarrass myself. I wouldn’t be so worried about what might happen and I wouldn’t lose the opportunity for joy.
At times I am more free than others. My behavior in the moment is the sum of my experiences and thoughts. That means that I am processing and in control over my freedom. I can surprise people to make them laugh or to make them think.