The Sleight of Hand

by Kevin Foster

Freedom is an illusion. And not a particularly good one. Like a mediocre magician playing at wowing the audience, its true nature has more in common with the sleight of hand. We are always fascinated by the shiny object, the trending topic, or the outrage of the moment. But it’s a shell game to keep the masses from thinking, from learning or looking too close to see how the trick is done. When we are trapped in circumstances we don’t know how to get out of or situations we cannot pretend to control, we panic. Fearful of losing our personal freedom, our personal autonomy.

Something that always has been an illusion, true freedom is anarchy and luckily most of us don’t live in that type of world. Instead we trade some true autonomy for some sense of security. For the majority, that is the smart play. It builds a safer world even at the expense of true freedom. The thing we forget is that it’s always a shell game, a trade off of factors, but the very idea of true freedom in any external real sense is always and has always been an illusion.

The only true freedom a society can possess without devolving into anarchist chaos is the freedom of the mind/spirit. The ability to go into oneself and shape reality, constructing your own reality, your own narrative. People do this all the time. Sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. Most, however, fail to grasp the significance of such freedom.

In our minds we can build worlds, become anything, alternate from God to devil and from villain to superhero. Introverted can become extroverted. In short, we can be whatever we want. We can construct that world in our mind. It is our only divine power. To manifest our will. In the landscapes of the mind these can be whatever we want, we fantasize and ponder scenarios that would make us ashamed if anyone knew and embarrassed or horrified if they found out. We build ourselves up and tear ourselves down. Who hasn’t berated themselves wildly for failing at something they truly wanted?

The point is when we are trapped by circumstance, by either physical, financial, or simply personal limitations, we are still free in our minds. We can dream. The paralyzed person can walk. The cowardly can be brave, the weak can be strong. The broke can find a windfall. The lonely… love.

Because it’s all make believe.

Here is the secret: Life itself is make believe.

So, make believe, dream your dreams, but understand that the divine power within you grants you the ability to not just fantasize but (should you wish it) to manifest your reality. Perhaps not the whole thing. Not yet. When Leonardo Di Vinci was designing helicopters in his mind he didn’t have the technology to make it real, but his thoughts led others to achieve that dream. We all share inspiration and stand on the shoulders of giants. We live in a technological world full of miracles so commonplace that we think nothing of the awesomeness that they are. All because people were free in their minds. Free to create the world they wanted to live in. A world with antibiotics, a world where humans could travel to the moon, a world where finding connections could be a mouse click away.

Yet in that freedom we must take care to guard against our own worst selves. The persistent little voice in the background that whispers, “You’re not good enough,” or that destruction is better than creation—it’s not, it’s just easier. Any fool knows this. While many of us struggle with internal doubt and mental health challenges, we have a duty to ourselves and those we love not to devolve into worse versions of ourselves. Because truly what we create and indulge in our minds can seep into the real world causing real pain and suffering. So, strive to clean the internal world of villains, put the naysayers in the stocks, short circuit the negative thoughts. Understand that you already are a superpower, an awesome being of unlimited potential. You just have to decide what type of person you wish to be, what type of world you wish to live in, and then figure out the steps to get there. Manifest your will.

What will you be with such freedom? A benevolent spirit helping solve the world’s ills and injustices or something worse?

The freedom of your mind/spirit is not an illusion, it is the foundation upon which real world heavens or hells are built.

Choose wisely.

A resident on Florida’s death row for many years, Kevin Foster is currently writing a sci-fi trilogy.

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