For a few short months, our home is in France. This summer, we are lucky enough to live in the romanticized city of Paris. We reside in a cozy little flat a mile east of Notre-Dame, in the Bastille neighborhood. Place de la Bastille is in the 11th arrondissement of Paris and the city center.
I love it here - the energy is intoxicating! It is a lively and densely populated neighborhood, with streets abundant with boulangeries. 🥖🍞🥐 Boulangerie is new in my vocabulary. It is French for bakery, specializing in baking bread (as opposed to the patisserie, which specializes in pastries - who knew? ☺️).
The neighborhood around the Bastille reminds me so much of the lower east side in Manhattan, New York City (USA). People from all walks of life, of every shape, size, color, and ethnicity come and go.
Parents with baby strollers walk the streets, alongside children who glide along skillfully on their scooters🛴. Businessmen and women in suits of all sorts co-exist with others more bohemian in nature. Add the outdoor cafes, the creperies (small restaurants where crêpes are sold), the tree-lined 🌳 streets and the homeless, and you have the backdrop of the managerie that is modern day Paris.
Place de la Bastille
The column at the center of the Bastille district marks the place where the French prison used to reside. The Bastille is reminiscent of days gone by when the French monarchy imprisoned those who were disagreeable with their politics, making it a symbol of oppression.
The storming of the Bastille, also known now as the French National Day occurred on July 14, 1789, a turning point in the French Revolution. During that time, an angry and aggressive mob invaded the prison and freed the 7 prisoners held behind its bars, an important symbol for the French Republican Movement. The prison was later demolished and the Place de la Bastille was erected.
Independence, Freedom, and Revolution
It is astonishing to me that in July, both French and Americans take a day on the calendar to celebrate freedom.
While Bastille Day in France is July 14th, our American Independence Day 🇺🇸 is July 4th. In fact, as I have learned, the people of France cheered 🎉🍾🥂and danced in the streets of Paris when Americans attained their freedom at the end of the American Revolution, 1776.
As an aside, it was fun finding statues of George Washington in Paris. Even though the first American president never step foot in France, there are at least 2 bronze monuments erected of him, signifying the friendship between the French-American alliance throughout history.
The George Washington Equestrian Statue, located at Place d'Iéna displays a stunning revolutionary hero on horseback.
There is another statute of President George Washington at Place du Etats-Unis (United States Square), shaking hands with the Marquis of Lafayette, Gilbert du Motier, a friend in combat during the American Revolution.
The Statue is reminiscent of the friendship and alliance between France and America.
When I Think of Freedom
When I reflect on the ideal of freedom, the phrase, "land of the free, home of the brave" from the Star Spangled Banner comes to mind. This is simply a result of my American upbringing.
Outwardly, Independence Day is one day we set aside to celebrate our national victory of freedom, sovereignty over another's reign. It is wonderful that the people of these beautiful United States come together in a themed holiday of red, white and blue to enjoy the freedom that we are so blessed to have. But what is the price of this freedom, outwardly, and on a more intimate level, what is the price of personal inner freedom?
Non-Attachment & Inner Freedom
What steps must we take, over and over again to gain your own personal and true sense of freedom?
The five steps to realize your inner freedom and thus your true sense of not being ruled by another are:
The first step to non-attachment is to accept all things as they are. Whatever may be going on, stop and accept that things are as they are. At this exact moment in time, things, as they are, can be no other way.
As Winnie the Pooh says “Ask me a question and I’ll reply, coddleston coddleston coddleston pie.” That is his very simple way of saying “things are as they are.” We may experience periods where we wish things were different we may go through all the different stages of grief in denial, but no clarity can occur without acceptance.
Rather than live in an alternate reality, accept and be with what is. If you want things to be different, first accept them as they are and then resolve to take steps to make change. This puts you in the present and lights the path to where you want to go.
Begin to except anything, we must be brave enough to step out of our immediate situation. To remove oneself from our own situation, we must look at things from a 10,000 feet perspective. Take yourself out of the current situation, whatever it is, and allow yourself to look from the outside in.
What is occurring in the situation? Figure out all the nuances of the dynamic drama that life is. Close your eyes and take a bird’s eye view: what happened to get you where you are? How did you behave, and what did you say to get you where you are? What can you do, or what must you say, to get to the place you want to be? Before you decide it was another’s fault or blame something else, realize that the only actions you can change are your own actions. What can you do differently to compose the outcome you want?
Having a clear understanding of what the situation is and allowing it to be - without changing it, is the first step to acceptance. When we can look at it, as it is without changing it, good, bad, indifferent and everything in between, we begin to practice accepting what is.
Accepting that things are as they are means not changing a thing about what is. Maybe you made a mistake or someone else wronged you or someone you care about did something hurtful. To accept means to see it as it occurred – that it really did happen.
The second step to non-attachment is to allow. To allow is to let it be.
To allow is to simply be with what is and take no exception. Training our mind to allow things to play out the way they need to provide to us rest. No longer do we dwell on why it is wrong or any other negative aspect. Things are as they are. No amount of anger or wishing is going to change that, allow it to just be.
While we sometimes feel like we NEED to do something or we NEED to act, it just isn’t so! The whole world, and everyone in it, got along just fine before you were here and it will continue when you are gone. You need not do anything.
Allowing is to observe life and all the stuff that happens without judgement, fear, or action. It means to accept the actions and consequences that unfold, and to know, that things are as they are … and it is OK.
Rather than being the savior and fixing everything in sight, we must create space in our life to allow others to take care of their part of life too.
Allowing is powerful because it excuses us from being general manager of the universe. It provides opportunity for others to take responsibility and accountability for their own actions. We are freed from needing to direct each and every single thing under the sun.
When we allow, we give way for greater possibility. Rather than relying on what we think should happen, we create expansive opportunity for the possibility of all things. Let’s face it, a way other than our own may well work…in fact, it may even work better than our way would have. The only way to find out is to allow it to happen.
Being present amidst possibility (without imposing direction or opinion) allows a broader and sometimes enlightening perspective that simply isn’t available if we have our mind set in one particular path. No longer are we micromanaging each and every word, action or deed, we begin to see things as they are and possibly with new and exciting potential! At once, we are engaged with a dynamic of life that wasn’t available when we thought we had to manage it all.
We may begin to see that actions and consequences are part of life itself and whatever the actions or consequences are, it is more akin to entertainment than responsibility. Rather than living everyone else's life, and being the director of a marionette show, we begin to be present to what is in our own life.
As we focus our energies on looking inward to see what is going on with self, our focus begins to deepen and our level of understanding of life itself blossoms.
The root of the word forgive is “pardonare” and it means to give completely without reservation. It is to pardon any transgressions against us - it is to let go of grief, to let go of pain, to let go of hurts committed toward us, and by us.
The most important and most difficult in the practice of forgiveness perhaps, is to forgive yourself. Your challenge then is to look in to your heart and see where you are not forgiving yourself and others.
What might seem wrong at some level might be personally insulting. To achieve peace, you must learn to realize that the person that did whatever they did was doing the very best they could with the tools they had to work with.
Know that they may not have had the same tools you have. If they did, they would have made the same decision you would have made. They have had different life experiences and based on those life experiences, they made whatever decision they made. In some very real sense, they had to do it the way they did it because of the tools they had to work with.
Bear in mind, you do not have to agree with any action or inaction that they have chosen. You will never be free insisting that someone else make the same choices as you. Until you allow the other person to make mistakes and be who they are, you will always be tethered and bound by their living.
The final step to the practice of non-attachment and personal freedom is to release. Simple, but not easy, you must surrender and give it up. Keep in mind, this is your life but nothing else in this whole wide universe is yours. The money you have or the house or car and every little thing is something that is on loan to you. What would happen if you didn’t have it?
Chances are, you would find a way to survive without it and probably prosper and be happy. You are not required to do anything or be anywhere. You can choose to go to work or school or choose not to. Of course there are consequences to most decisions, but they are your decisions to make.
Again, the idea is simple, but it is not easy. To surrender all that is means to let go of all the things, including that which may or may not be important.
Perhaps even more difficult than forgiveness is to surrender. The typical terminology of surrender is to give up. However, what we are giving up, what might be important to us or might not be important to us, is an exchange for the peace of harmony and love and joy. So if one truly wants peace, we must be willing to acquire peace at the expense of letting things go.
When we let things go, big or small, we also release and let go of our pain, grief, hurts, and our suffering in exchange for the peace and love of God within, a master practice for all those who are on the journey of awakening.
As we do so, we begin to realize that we are part of a magnificent tapestry that is life unfolding. Rather than to mind each stitch at every turn, we surrender to the great masterpiece that is life, excepting the participation of those around us.
In doing so we know that we are not alone, but part of a greater whole that is occurring in each moment.
Once we experience all the previous steps:
- We accept things as they are,
- We allow what is without exception,
- We forgive and know that everyone is doing the very best they can with the tools they have to work with and
- We release all of the negative energy to free ourselves of the burden of managing all things
We, then, can truly be present to life and our own brilliant existence here.
As a result of this process we cannot help but to be grateful. It is not enough however to just be grateful in the abstract. Looking around and acknowledging all of the truly beautiful things that make up life allows us to not only be grateful, but moreover, to be happy.
In this sense, freedom and happiness are part and parcel to the same package. As we look around and notice the flowers and the oxygen we breath, our friends and everything beautiful about our individual and collective lives, a sense and feeling of joy, appreciation (gratitude) and pleasure sweeps through our very being. This is freedom in the truest sense.
When we are grateful for what is present, we recognize the abundance that is. In doing so, the magic doors of prosperity open wide so that more can pour in. Gratitude is the activator for our good and multiplies what we have into not simply enough, but more than enough. We begin to recognize the good that is around us and all that are seemingly challenges morph into opportunities.
With this, I wish you a very happy 4th of July and invite you to embrace the freedom we celebrate with our independence as a nation, as well as the true freedom that only you can win as you overcome the internal oppressors and experience your own independence, and realize your inner freedom. For this truth and so much more we celebrate our Independence Day, both without and within.
Please Raise Awareness and Share The Love ❤️
What do you think, my friends?
Do you believe you are truly free?
In what ways do you practice freedom?
What do you think about the idea of revolting against the status quo? (Or the revolutionary process, both inner and outer?)
How do you celebrate independence?