Read this article in DeutschFreedom – what is it at all? Whoever has only been halfway through, as is the case in philosophy discussions, knows that almost every word is an interpretation. Is it freedom when I’m healthy and can go to the job I love and still have enough money left for a short trip? Is it freedom when I live in a country where I can live my sexuality freely without risking being stigmatized? If I do not have to cover myself? Is it freedom when I can practically dance half-naked in a public botanical garden? Or is it only true freedom if I am not subjected to any system which prescribes to me, under penalty of punishment, how I have to behave, and how much of my income I am obliged to share?
Freedom is a feeling
I think, if one feels free, lies above all on one’s life path. If you were to come from a country full of war, everything would be free for you, where you could sleep peacefully. If you had grown up in a hippie commune, any major city or capitalist system could have a limiting effect on you. Perhaps liberty can even be instilled: In the US, freedom is practically a slogan, which is always repeated, followed by the compulsive eagerness from the off. If you define freedom for a whole country so that everyone is free, who is allowed to have a shotgun without restrictions, it is, of course, more than easy. Nevertheless, some US Americans seem to believe in their ultimate freedom.
Germany, however, I feel not so much freer. In Germany, we have a certain lifestyle which is very much about work and performance. Whether it is good for the spirit, what helps the economy can be questioned. From the beginning you are very much in a pre-made Mindset – my parents have not brought me anything else. There are more and more self-employed people and more and more backpackers – perhaps you can see this as a trend that we are developing an increasing awareness of alternative, not so limiting ways. I like it when people dare to take a look beyond what their parents have taught them about their 9-5 job.
I don’t feel free – and am relatively happy about it. This sounds a bit odd, I know. This sentence means that I once had pure freedom and only through this experience could develop a certain awareness. An awareness that makes me see this life different now.
Backpacking – My feeling of freedom
When I was 19 in Australia, I felt ultimately free. Right after the Abi the things packed, flown alone and Work & Travel made. Dish washing in Sydney, fieldwork in New South Wales and Victoria. BÄM. It was the crudest break in my lifestyle that you can imagine. From the school bench to the fields. Replace ballpoint pen against hedge shears. The whole everyday life, which I had known up to then, simply dissolved. After the first “Shit, what am I doing here?”, I got used to the new lifestyle amazingly fast. I have not even begun to think about our company explicitly, but this journey has changed me by and by. I was 8 months in Australia and for a long time I had not even booked a return flight. Alone that has done a lot for my sense of freedom – I was just there, that was my new life and I had no deadline in my head. Besides, I was 19 and had not even developed a feeling for aging. I was still quite at this stage, where one feels immortal. Like being a teenager forever. The money came from home and I did not have to worry about it either. Not really. I had no finances in the back of my head or had to worry about it, with a lot of money I still manage for how long. At the age, I was not expected to be financially self-sufficient. Everything was so simple.
In addition to the financial and double temporal independence, there was the local. We bought a van in Sydney and went through this classic East Coast trip to Cairns – through three climatic zones. We could sleep where we wanted. When we woke up with the sun in the morning, we were able to decide whether we wanted to go to the beach, to go hiking in the mountains, or rather to a small town to find a library. Only there we had Internet. I can hardly imagine today: to decouple yourself voluntarily from the Internet. For 8 months. In Australia, I did not notice anything about world events, trends or social media. Best time of my life. I still remember this feeling of pure carelessness. It did not stop immediately, it only came after several months with all these freedoms. It was damn hard to reach.
Sure, it was not always pleasant to stuck in that tiny van. Once we had to shower in the rain and we were practically feeding exclusively on tuna cans and gas station meat pies. It wasn’t an elegant lifestyle but honestly I’m not the person who needs it at all. Deep in my heart, I’m just a dirty hippie who only needs three t-shirts in the luggage, as long as one of them still smells okay.
I need three independents for a genuine sense of freedom: financial, temporal and local
That I will feel this freedom again, I think is very unlikely. At 25 I have an awareness that I am getting older. I have health problems that limit me. I have convictions that make me think about my diet. I have more worries, dependencies and responsibilities. I have not had a crazy business idea that could have brought me in the direction of financial independence. But what I try is to backpack each other or every other winter 3 months. It is not the ultimate freedom, but it comes very close to it. Only when I travel, I feel free.
My whole mindset now builds on what I learned in Australia. It is noticeable to all, how I changed back to Germany. Now I wish everyone to make such an experience.
Huge thanks goes out to Annette for the pretty pictures!