Born free

Lessons from my baby daughter #15.

Born free, as free as the wind blows

As free as the grass grows

Born free to follow your heart

Live free and beauty surrounds you

The world still astounds you

Each time you look at a star

I first saw the film this song was written for when I was about four years old and the story and the tune is indelibly written into my childhood. I remember meeting a young Elsa and her siblings. I remember the blood running into the water when their mother is shot. I remember a much larger Elsa lying on the lounge, being released into the wild and finally having cubs of her own. I remember falling in love with nature documentaries and the rightness of seeing animals in the wild.

And then I grew up and got busy with life and forgot most of the message that my four year old heart took so seriously. That is, until this last week.

We stayed in a beachside cabin over Christmas this year. There was no Christmas tree taller than me, no stockings hung with care, no tinsel or fairy lights strung throughout the house and no light dusting of flour all over the kitchen from the baking of apple pies. Instead, we had a tiny potted pine tree with the lightest decorations we could find and one present each. In our room was a double bed, two side tables, a low desk and a sliding mirrored door closet. Hubs and I squeezed into the bed and Miss L, who has recently begun to find her way to the edge of absolutely everything, got a bed on the floor. It was a simple, almost Spartan, setup.

The first morning I awoke in the grey light to Miss L sitting in the middle of her messy bed on the floor having a grand old chat with the mirror baby. I watched from above as she discovered, to her great delight, that the mirrored doors opened, that a closet made a damn good cubby house and, most importantly, that she did know how to crawl after all!

I’ve known that Miss L could crawl since the beginning of December but she had only managed a few shuffles before I had to intervene and redirect her away from television cords and power plugs and glass cabinets and too many tiles and all manner of things that aren’t baby proof but seem to be all the more interesting for it. So watching her sheer joy in the discovery that she could move all over the house with no one in her way was just about the best gift ever. Freedom.

I’ve studied Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as much as the next person. Yes, we all need food and shelter and warmth and sleep (oh, how we need sleep!) and this undoubtedly motivates a lot of human behaviour, but not all of it. It cannot explain why slaves risked their lives to run from the only life they knew. It cannot explain why so many great minds spent so many hours trying to learn how to fly. It cannot explain why restless souls climb mountains or jump out of planes or dive to the depths of the ocean. You see, this pyramid of needs doesn’t take into account the inborn desire for freedom. It cannot explain why we hunger for more than bread alone.

Miss L could only learn to crawl when she had the freedom to explore, to try and to fail and to try again. Perhaps I am only learning my own lessons now, when the trappings of the life I once held dear have been taken away. Christmas seems a good time to discover, perhaps for the first time or perhaps remembering a lesson from long ago, that the things you fill your life and home with can become a bondage in the end. I have tried and, like my daughter, I have landed on my face more than once. Right now I often feel as if there is not a single part of me that is not grazed in one way or another. But without the gloss on the windows of my life I can see where I went wrong and I will pull myself back up and try again. One day I will crawl and one day, in the not too distant future, I will run with outstretched arms once more.

Born free, and life is worth living

But only worth living 

‘Cause you’re born free

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