“The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse.” ~ Jules Renard, The Journal of Jules Renard …
Sometimes we all need a reminder that freedom is ultimately a choice, and if we wish to truly be free, then we have to be able to let go of our need to meet the expectations of others–whether that involves politely turning down a dinner invitation as Jules suggests here, or ignoring that incoming phone call that is interrupting family dinner. You see, many of us regard ourselves as free, yet allow ourselves to remain enslaved by our need or desire to meet with the approval of others. What really matters about our decisions is not whether they are acceptable or pleasing to others, but that they are moral, ethical, and necessary. And if we know that, then we never have to give an excuse for anything that we do to make someone feel better or think differently about who and what we are.
Going out to dinner these days is not an easy task for me, as full-time company Chief Executive officer, being a father to my many children, a husband to my wife, a son to a very aged mother, an active member of my community, a High Chief, a benefactor to a whole lot of dependants, and a number of other things that keep me rather busy. And because of how I was raised, a large part of me wants to be courteous and give that explanation to others. I feel that it is the kind and considerate thing to do, or that I would be sparing their feelings. But deep down, a part of me realizes that Jules is right, that when I reach the point of true freedom, I am not going to base what I do and say on how I think others will react. Their reactions, after all, are about them, not me, and a simple “No, thank you,” should suffice.
When we allow our choices to be affected by the desire to please others or win their approval, we end up making excuses that are not truly reflective of our own preferences. But if we seek to truly live our lives in a way that respects our unique journey, the questions we must ask ourselves are such: “Can I turn someone down with a simple ‘No, thank you,’ without telling them why? If not, why?”
Seek an acceptance with not having to explain your decisions to others.
Questions to consider:
Why do we so often feel a need to explain our decisions to others?
What kinds of things can we do to grow more free as time moves on?
Do you agree with Jules’ statement? Does it make sense?
For further thought:
“Who stops us from being free? We blame the government, we blame the weather, we blame our parents, we blame religion, we blame God. Who really stops us from being free? We stop ourselves.” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements