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I’m feeling a little bit disappointed that I didn’t get to the umbrella on the deck in time during the last storm. As I try to open it, I notice that the middle of the three tiers won’t fully open because one one of the supporting tines has broken in half and gone missing. The puppy is standing beside me, looking at me like I’ve lost my mind as I raise and lower the cranking mechanism in vain, hoping that it will somehow fix itself.

No such luck. As I am about to give up, I look down onto the garden, and there, sticking out of the red flowering bush, is the other half of the broken support. Hope. I retrieve it and jerry-rig the two pieces together, and walla, I have a semi-functional shade from the sun. It’s imperfectly perfect in its deformity, in that the tension has gone missing from the fabric that the broken tine now supports.

In retrospect, the storm has given me what I had wished the umbrella always had — a bit of flexibility in its undue tautness, so that it can better weather a bit more of the frequent wind gusts that tend to come off of the water. It looks a bit bent and articulated, and not so pretty any more, but it is actually more relaxed and functional and free-floating in its existence.

I go back to reading my book on Tao with the essay about being “easy and relaxed”. It speaks about harmony with the universe, about transcending both “being” and “doing’” and effortlessly switching from one to the other when necessary. It seems to bring home the message of choice, without which, it is hard to imagine any sense of true freedom.

Some will not rest until they have achieved or restored perfection, while others are at peace with their ‘brokenness’ and their imperfections. Some use their freedom to choose to walk the hard, challenging, twisted paths of life, while others are content in choosing the ‘easy’ roads. We are often judged, even defined by the world by the choices we make, and yet that is all moot, for only our heart knows the inner peace that comes from choosing what is in alignment with the call of our soul.

The willingness to choose our own path, the courage to be answerable to the heart, the ability to keep growing in connection to the divine, the rising up to be in service to others, the releasing of our inner fragrance of love — and to do all of these in a relaxed harmony with the universe — are perhaps our true freedoms. And for us to practice them, our hearts’ freedoms need not be perfect, do they?

As I finish writing this, the creaking of the sunbrella tells me that the wind is picking up and another summer evening thunderstorm approaches. This time, I am ready and present to act before I lose any more tines. I hope to have shade for a few more weeks, for summer has just begun!


P.S. What are your thoughts on the heart of freedom? Are we really as free as we think we are? What is it that binds us, often without our awareness? I invite you to share in our weekly chat with the #SpiritChat community on Sunday July 4 (Independence Day in The USA) at 9am ET / 630pm India. Namaste – @AjmaniK

Summer flowers bloom, revealing hearts of Freedom