Feb 252016

To here and no further! Until I get the chance to grow a bit that is...

To here and no further! Until I get the chance to grow a bit that is…

Recently I was having a discussion with someone on boundaries and freedom. She felt that true freedom meant that there were no boundaries, that anything and everything was possible. And that this was the thing to strive for.

This got me thinking back to a recent post of mine, where I discussed setting boundaries to limit freedom, so as to be able to actually make some choices. Because if everything is possible, how are you ever going to figure out what the best choice is? Whereas if you only have 2 options, it’s much easier to see that one will probably give better results than the other.

Now, freedom is definitely something to strive for (even if it is the freedom to limit your own options to make it possible to get an overview of your own choices). But boundaries and limitations also make us human. Taken to the extreme, complete freedom implies freedom from the consequences of your actions. And without consequences, what is the meaning of an action? Or what is the value of the person taking that action?

And of course complete freedom is impossible. Even if the laws of mankind can be broken, the laws of nature cannot. So the laws of nature are not meaningful boundaries to gain freedom from.

So what then is a boundary? I believe this is something we put on ourselves: “This is something that I can’t do (even though I wished that I could)”.

Personally, I can’t go bungee-jumping. I’m too afraid of heights to seriously consider the notion.

But maybe, some day, I will be able to go bungee-jumping.

I don’t like having this fear, so I am willing to work on it. I go and stand at the ledge of a building (whilst clamping on to the railing) and every time I survive that (so far every time!) the fear gets a tiny bit less. Maybe (maybe!) in 2 or 5 or 20 years, I’ll be able strap some rubber cords to my legs and jump off of a bridge. And until that moment I’ll still be a happy person.

Most boundaries don’t really matter. My life isn’t any worse because I can’t go bungee-jumping.

Some boundaries do matter though. If I’m afraid of leaving my own house then I have a serious problem. Or a little bit less extreme, if I can’t tell my boss that I’m overworked then that majorly downgrades my happiness (yes, I’ve had that problem. It sucked!)

Being “free” of such a happiness-reducing problem / fear most certainly is a great good and many people would happily take the option of magicking their largest boundaries away.

Freedom like all things human is measured not in absolute but in relative terms. And like any measurement, comparing yourself to others doesn’t work. The question to ask: Am I more free today than I was a year ago?
At the same time there is joy and beauty in overcoming a boundary, in being able to do something that you couldn’t do before. Every time I stand on a ledge I’m scared out of my mind. But at the same time I’m very proud of myself that I am actually standing there. And finally talking to my boss to indicate that I wasn’t able to cope with the work felt like a major victory!

Of course I learned from this. If something similar were to happen today I wouldn’t find it half as hard. This boundary was pushed back and my freedom increased.

So, is the ultimate goal ultimate freedom? As I wrote, that is unattainable and if it were, it would mean we stopped being human. So no.

What I think the goal is, is to increase freedom over time. To bump up against a boundary and to work on tearing it down, going over, under or through it.

The goal is not ultimate freedom. The goal is striving for ultimate freedom.

Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

  2 Responses to “Freedom and boundaries”

  1. Freedom is agreeing on the boundaries.

    Having no personal boundaries is not freedom for those whose boundaries you overstep, so not having boundaries can’t be the ultimate freedom.

    • Good point, I hadn’t thought of it that way… Though I would say that freedom in that case would be personal, -I- can have the freedom to do whatever I want (overstepping others boundaries along the way), but that would be a severe limitation to the happiness of others… Not a world I would want to live in.

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