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I soaked up the Malibu sun in isolation today while feeling safety as my music accompanied me through large sound canceling headphones. My…

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Freedom Isn’t Free

Geralt; Pixabay

Freedom is celebrated differently, and at different times all around the world. It is something that may be viewed in various ways, depending on cultures and traditions. For myself, I am here in the United States, and this weekend is the time of year that we celebrate our independence. I know it can often be easy to let the blessing and value of our freedom slip our minds. We take things like that for granted, and we keep its importance buried in our subconscious.

When we look around the world at tough places where freedom isn’t a guarantee, we should be reminded that freedom isn’t free. We should think about it everyday.

I want to take a step back, and look at freedom from a different type of perspective. Living free is one of the most valuable and priceless parts of life. We must always keep its worth fresh in our minds.

My experiences with mental illness and drug addiction were the greatest (and toughest) lessons ever taught to me. Especially when it came down to living in a world as a free man, and not a prisoner. Being a prisoner in my own mind was one of the most painful parts of life that I ever experienced. When we are trapped in our own minds, we feel the painful parts of life in a completely amplified way.

geralt; Pixabay

Being stuck in our brains with patterns of erratic thoughts and emotions, can be a world that is indescribable to outsiders who are trying to look in. It leads us to acting in ways that project trouble and mistakes right back to us.

The lack of being free in this type of scenario really overtakes life in negative ways. Because the related behaviours can not only take our mental and emotional freedom away. It can take it away literally and physically as well.

Since it is the places we end up in, that really make us regret ever taking freedom for granted.

The very best lessons in freedom I’ve ever learned, was the experiences I had with being forced out of society. When we are mandated to places like institutions, jails, or penitentiaries, our entire lives of free living flash before our eyes continuously. It can be a process that holds some of the worst thoughts and fears we’ve ever experienced.

Instantly, the strongest emotions of regret flood over us in an almost shivering type of way. We beat ourselves up, and we repeatedly ask ourselves “how could we have been so stupid!?

SamuelStone; Pixabay

In that unfree world, we play the tapes back over and over again, and every thought that we can possibly connect to freedom, comes over and over again.

For me, I remember when I was “away” from home, I would have dreams at night, that I was free, and I never really went away. Only to wake up, look around and realize that I really was actually living in a nightmare. That was a moment that would happen over and over as the weeks and months went on. I can look back and remember the many tears it brought me.

While being forced into an institution, or jail doesn’t seem remotely the same as living in a country with freedom, it really does connect afterall.

Freedom is a general state of living, as well as a state of mind, and even now, I catch myself sometimes taking this free life for granted.

PublicCo; Pixabay

Thankfully, I now value the meaning and way of life with knowledge of mindfulness. So when I catch myself taking things like that for granted, I immediately take my mind back, to its current state of recognizing blessings in my life, and the lives of my loved ones.

I hope everyone reading today, has a good sense of value, when it comes to determining the worth of your freedom.

Whether it be physical freedom, or the freedom that comes with good emotions and mental health, I hope everyone feels free on this day.


Michael Patanella

is a Trenton, New Jersey Author, Publisher, Columnist, Editor, Advocate, and recovering addict, covering topics of mental health, addiction, sobriety, mindfulness, self-help, faith, spirituality, Smart Recovery, social advocacy, and countless other nonfiction topics. His articles, publications, memoirs, and stories are geared towards being a voice for the voiceless. Hoping to reach others out there still struggling.

Freedom Isn’t Free was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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I no longer feel at home

I no longer feel at home.

summer nostalgia by Virginia Mori

Since the virus has taken the whole world in its fist, fear and uncertainty have become our second home. We are continually being exposed to a new story every day.

Be it the deadly EEE, how every life matters, locusts damaging our lands, someone leaving the world, people losing jobs, or the surge in domestic violence. It is all so overwhelming. These unsettling times have made us realise plenty of things, causing us to question what makes us and what we could be.

As I sit on my bed, clearly violating my work-life balance, trying to be extra productive, having no fixed mealtimes, and also wanting to go out and find peace; the child me is always wondering.

Am I mentally exhausted? Or is it because everyone is suddenly talking about the same things that make me worry? Is my brain over-processing every word that comes my way? When we finally unmask, will it resurface our insecurities? Will we finally breathe a new-found air when we go back to our pre-pandemic lives? Will we go back to that life at all?

la bambina gigante by Virginia Mori

Confined within these walls is a heart that is continuously telling me to stay safe, and a mind that is wishing to fly away.

In a tug of war, the restless mind converses with the fragile heart. “We are so much more than the dubious thoughts that engulf us.”

I remember the last time I hugged a friend, shook hands with a colleague, visited a cafe and spent hours talking about ordinary things, things that are no longer ordinary. The time I drove around the bustling city and stopped at a signal, flashed my travel card at the train station to go to work, made weekend plans and was happy coming home. I feel grateful to have been able to do all that. But, I no longer feel the same.

I have made peace with living two lives under one roof.

I take a break from any screen after every 30 minutes. It makes me stay fresh and active for a longer time.

I split my tasks into smaller chunks and try finishing it within a decided time frame.

I read now and then, be it a poem, an article or a book. I watch funny videos. I sing and record myself. I drink a lot of water.

I try channelling my emotions into anything that makes me happy.

I wear all kinds of masks, N95 masks, face masks, eye masks and hair masks.

Most of the times, I do nothing at all.

These things are pretty basic, which I was doing even before. The realisation of how these things helped me cope with day to day life came only later. I do get tired, distracted and frustrated, and I am thankful for having friends and family who help me get through each day. I am grateful I am still employed, I can enjoy good food, and I am healthy.

verde by Virginia Mori

The world is full of hope, and every situation teaches us a good thing or two.

And once this ends (we all know it will), I want to experience and appreciate all that I took for granted.

I want to say one more thank-you, pass an extra smile, greet a stranger just one more time.

I want to let sand slip through the fingers and look at the sunset without fear.

I want to laugh with friends at a bar chugging beer.

I want to hug, and I want to cry, I want to feel free and touch the sky.

My heart is hopeful, it is kind, it is warm, and it knows things always get fine.

I no longer feel at home was originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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I live in Germany at the border to Switzerland. We life a peaceful and free life. But what’s about responsibility?

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