• J. W. Barlament

Liberosis: The Yearning to be Free

The world of today is a suffocating thing. Modernity has humanity in a chokehold, and the collective mind of mankind is starting to succumb to this murderous grip. There’s a disheartening notion going around that we’re all just, as Tolkien put it, lesser sons of greater sires. And, as it seems, there might just be truth to this assertion. For where are all the daring revolutionaries? Where are all the noble heroes? Where are all the living legends? Trampled. Every last one of them. Trampled by the seemingly innocent but ultimately ignorant security of modernity. We are not as free as we used to be, and as a result, we’re yearning more than ever.

Throughout their lives, but especially in common times of crisis - in the teenage years, middle age, and when death comes knocking on the door - people feel an overwhelming urge to escape from all of the abstractions and complexities of life. It’s like the modern world is one big prison, and we all sometimes need to try to stage a break out. We need to rest somewhere far away from our endless stresses. We need to reconnect with ourselves. We need to breathe free.

All of these conflicting feelings can be described by just one word that comes courtesy of the ever-poignant Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. This, of course, is liberosis, defined as “the desire to care less about things and loosen our grips on life”. It's a term that comes to us at the most opportune of times. Never more than now have people felt this way, and as modernity continues to bulldoze its way through the world, this collective sense will only grow stronger.

With all of this out of the way, we must ask a very simple question. Why? Why is liberosis such a common problem for modern people? The answer lies in the disconnect between the lives we live and the lives we’re meant to live. No man is meant to live a prisoner in his own world. No man is meant to toil away in farms and factories for all his days. No man is meant to be spied on and nannied over by his rulers without limit. We are stripped of more of our liberties and saddled with more responsibilities every day. Is it any wonder that modern people get so often overwhelmed by this endless mass of madness? And is it any wonder that we feel the need to get away?

Thus, it seems that this is not, after all, just another easily ignorable urge. It's a fundamental part of modern life. Without modernity, there could be no liberosis, and without liberosis, there could very well be no modernity. Just because it’s fundamental, however, does not mean it is unbeatable. We can, indeed, vanquish feelings of liberosis whenever they arise, and we can make the discomforts of modernity, if not pleasurable, then at least tolerable. Now, there’s no convoluted twelve step program to inner peace here. The solution is, in fact, as simple as they get. We just have to listen to our inner urges.

Get away from the world. This is what liberosis orders of us, and it is this order which we must follow. Without reservation. Without exception. We must - at least temporarily - flee from our responsibilities and return to living lives of the utmost simplicity. We cannot figure out ourselves when saddled with other people, commitments, and materials. We can only figure out ourselves when wholly alone. Retreat and reflect, for only after doing so will anybody ever achieve any semblance of inner peace. Liberosis is inevitable for some, and thus, when it rears its head, those some must let it win.

Now, to tackle this issue on any larger a scale than that of the individual is much too big a task for one introductory article. But, in our own lives, we may still use the lessons liberosis teaches us to make the tortures of modernity a little more manageable. Namely, we can lessen the piercing pain by letting ourselves loose in our everyday lives. Not everyone can be moving into the forest or meditating atop a mountain in quests for self-discovery all at once. We can, however, relax our sinister surveillance, our restless restrictions, and our petty punishments. We can let people make mistakes again. If a man can make mistakes, then he can learn the truth about the way of the world, and the truth, of course, will set him free.