Originally posted 2016-06-10 08:00:51.
“It’s just another word, for ‘nothin’ left to lose’”, as Janis Joplin stated. I think it’s a good song (Me and Bobby McGee), but a touch cynical.
I think freedom is something a lot more than that.
I’ll try to put it accurately into words.
See, in Northern North America (predominantly USA more so than Canada), there’s what I would class as a insular view of what certain things are. Even in Southern North America, where I currently sit, I’m sure I don’t even have a full understanding of what that word means, yet, but I have learned what it means far more in the last two months, than I had the 41 years plus that I was living in Canada and then in USA (for almost a year). The Nevisians (pronounced by locals to sound like Divisions with an “N” instead of a “D”) are truly free.
I am speaking with an assumptive viewpoint on the vast majority of those I’ve met so far on this island; they aren’t bound by the constraints of having to keep up with the Jones or having to know which Cardassian is storming the West side of Deep Space 9; they know some of celebrity stuff, but they aren’t so caught up in it that it consumes them. They don’t need to dress to impress one another; in fact, most Nevisians wander the roads in what I would class as super comfy and appropriate for this excessive constant heat. Many of them rarely even wear shoes, so the latest designer’s pairs haven’t even crossed their minds to search out, let alone waste an entire month or more’s salary on to pinch their toes into.
This is a tiny island; less than 10,000 humans live and work and play permanently on this dormant volcano. I’ve seen only one who looked like they were heading to an important dress-up appointment, though I have seen literally hundreds of others milling about the streets, chillin’ at the Lobster Shack, and buying their groceries at Best Buy, Ram’s, and Hosford’s IGA. Put it this way, I joked around with a guy at the Lobster Shack for over 20 minutes one day before finding out he was the Minister of Agriculture. He just wanted to come hang out with his buddies, and wait for his chicken to cook on the grill. Lovely guy. Hilarious. And I wouldn’t have known what his job title was, had it not been for someone else joking with him and me overhearing it.
All of the kids are required to wear school uniforms. Perhaps this is a throwback respect to the days when the British Government still ran things here (SKN gained independence in 1983); I think though that it’s a good equaliser. No one has to worry about who is wearing the newest trend, because no one can really afford that here.
Nevis is the smaller of the two islands; St Christopher, or Kitts as it is better known, is the “big booming metropolis”. It can handle a cruise ship/day, and then the streets are packed to maximum.
I’m detailing a bit of this for you, because it’s important you understand – this isn’t some huge city, or a massive country that has a GDP of oil or anything viable in terms of sale-worthy to the rest of the world on a large scale. (Ting [the best pop ever made – grapefruit pop!!] apparently does NOT count in this… I’m not sure why.)
What Nevis DOES have however is people. Good, honest, beautiful, and FREE.
We take for granted how often things don’t go wrong for us in Northern North America. I know I used to, and I counted myself amongst those who didn’t like to complain. Now, the power or internet goes out for 15 minutes, 8 hours, 5 days, and you have to accept it. It’s not like you can call someone up and they just flip a switch.
So what is this freedom then, if we’re bound by such things?
Freedom is many things. It’s a Sunday afternoon, sitting at a picnic table, waving at cars full of people who you’re just learning the nicknames of, while you wait for your lobsters to cook on a tiny grill, while playing dominoes and sipping a Carib beer.
Freedom is waking up right before dawn, and not needing an alarm clock to determine your day’s scheduling.
Freedom is not the absence of work, but rather working at something that brings you joy, like running a tiny (think roughly the same size of a medium sized mall kiosk) “corner store”, where you bring in freshly baked bread to share with your customers that you’ve watched grow up before your very eyes.
Freedom is laughing real, and not worrying who hears you singing your favourite songs, and enjoying life as it happens. It’s slower, more patient, and kinder. The smiles are truer, the hopes are easily attained, and the dreams are worked towards with friends who become family.
Freedom is not a flag being waved, or speeches shouted to the masses. It is knowing you need to leave five minutes earlier than you might normally, just in case there are sheep ambling up the road, and being so alright with that possibility, that you have to chuckle when it does happen.
Freedom is all of that and more: I wish I could show you the freedom they have here. Tourists never will see it properly, and only those who are accepted as “local” and “family” are able to see what true freedom is. Living the dream that is the reality. That is what true freedom is, and wanting to share it with everyone.