, , ,

What we all want is personal freedom to do what we want to do when we want to do it. This holds for me, for people I know, for all humans, but it also is true for every living thing. The DNA at the core of our being drives us to fulfill its goal, which is to reproduce itself, and for that to happen it requires that its manifest being survive and reproduce. In order to fulfill that function it demands that every living creature strive to the limit of its ability at every moment to live. We humans, because of our consciousness of our being, can sometimes intentionally do things that seem to contradict our DNA’s directives. Parachuting off of high places, called base jumping, is a very dangerous sport with very little monetary or social reward, and yet there is a whole community of people who participate. James Bond does a spectacular base jump in the movie The Spy Who Loved Me.

Being human and conscious of our mortality we sometimes seek to challenge our own selves with tasks that we think might be beyond our abilities. These don’t have to be physically dangerous; in fact, few things we challenge ourselves with are physically dangerous. Most things we do are because of our previous experiences that have formed into habits. All the same, each time we consciously choose to do something that is changing an automatic habitual response, it has an element of danger. The risk is that if we change one thing we will have to change our behavior and our relationship with our whole world. Any change is perceived as potentially dangerous because of the unexpected and unintended effects that might come into play. A tiny decision, a slight change of how we say something, might totally change our relationship with all of our friends and thus with everything.

What freedom becomes is the flowing of our previously learned habits. We place ourselves into environments and situations over which we feel we have a mastery that allows for this feeling of flow. To move into a new situation requires us to intentionally take a risk, and that is what our DNA tells us not to do, so it is difficult. The attitude I have cultivated in myself, and suggest others give some consideration, is to observe whether a possible action has a possible payoff if one is successful and little or no injury if one totally fails. Conversely, one should avoid any action, even if it is a familiar one, if there is little or nothing to be gained by successful completion and a substantial loss or injury for a failure. Usually it is very easy to make these types of distinctions.

Be bold when there is no risk and be averse when there is possibility of loss.