Free (adj.) - not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be one as one wishes.
I took this photo on Jones Beach at some point last July, and to this day, it's one of my favorite photos I've ever taken. As you can clearly see, I added text along the side through one of my favorite photo editors (whose name will be kept secret). It reads:
Why did I choose this? This photo is a perfect embodiment of freedom, framing the relationship between sky, earth, and humans, of all ages and types.
But I can tell you that I am for sure not someone who can define the word "free" and be 100% accurate.
"Free" means something different to everyone.
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Generally, "free" connotes a wide open space- a picturesque world filled with wildflowers, water, and tall grass. A warm sun, the sand, and the movement of nature are all images that come to mind. But unlike my own photo, my relationship with the word "free" remains in a different kind of jungle, one that is packed with chaos and concrete.
I find freedom in cities. As a native suburban, too much open space becomes sickening after a while, perhaps feeling empty, removed, or antiseptic. But the culture of a city embodies a more mysterious and intriguing character. It is the adventure of a city that perpetuates its wonder. The fact that every time you walk out the door, something new and different will always come your way. The city is like attending the theater, it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats not knowing what's going to happen next.
Living in NYC [the center of the universe] has been a blessing. Although the intimidating enigma of buildings and the bustling yellow cabs are battles that I deal with everyday, it is these obstacles that make me feel independent.
Months ago, I was at the 42nd Street subway station, making my way towards the S Train. The Shuttle, as it is formally called, runs from West 42nd (Times Square) to East 42nd (Grand Central Station). It is the only train that goes between the West and East Sides (they seriously have to make more).
It was around 6.30 PM as I hopped off the 1 Train, and made my way up the grueling 18 steps to the upper level of the subway station. Immediately, I saw tons of people hustling and essentially, running, to the S Train to make it before it left. And in that moment, I stopped walking. As if time had frozen before me, I looked around and saw the indescribable phenomena of a stampede human beings, just like myself, rushing to catch this train.
It seems like such a simple observation. But it wasn't. It was so complex. The actress in me studied the motivation of each of these people, some with gym bags, some with briefcases, some with shopping bags.
A man in a full tuxedo, perhaps a king, swept by me, while his queen- dressed in a red A-line gown with her hair falling out from it's high bun, struggled behind him, stumbling over her Louboutins.
Another sire held his Equinox gym bag as he stared down at his iPod, nearly bumping into every passerby and pole in his path.
A small child, a prince of some sort, about the age of 8 or 9 was standing at an electric keyboard in the corner. He was bent over, madly playing one of Beethoven's Symphonies. People crowded around him, pulling out their iPhones and quickly snapping photos and videos while dropping one or two coins into the hat that rested on the ground below.
A group of teenage girls hustled by with about 6 shopping bags each, with names such as "Tiffany & Co," "Juicy Couture," and "Abercrombie" printed in large embossed fonts on each bag. These princesses held their Louis Vuitton purses and iPhones as well, making the load they were carrying bigger then their own statures.
This royal family-- the world, literally stampeded by as I stopped and observed them. And it was clear that each of them had their own purpose and place within the city, the promised land of neon and chrome.
They all had some train to catch, somewhere to go, or someone to see.
And that is my kind of freedom.
Not a wide open space, or a frame of sky, earth, and humans- as my photo depicted, but instead- a world of movement, ambition, and progression.
The chaotic city is a palace of opportunity and excitement, where individuals are encouraged to practice their free will.
"Now go we in content
To liberty, and not to banishment."
[As You Like It, 1.3.139-140)
P.S: Bonus points if you catch the two Rent references I made
P.P.S: Loving The XX lately...