By Akanna Okeke
Man is free but everywhere in chains. This allusion to J.J. Rousseau‘s famous quote perfectly encapsulates my latest musing.
The most ubiquitous of prisons is the prison of the mind. It’s inescapable. We’re all bound by it, or should I say in it. Everyone is a prisoner there but some prisoners have it better than others. Some find themselves in a tiny cell with very limited capabilities, while some roam free in a big yard — albeit a prison yard.
Why the differential treatment, you may wonder? Well, it so happens that the prisoners have a choice. A choice to either remain confined within a tiny, limited cell or to be allowed to roam the entire expanse of the prison complex. Some stay put in their little cells while some gradually move from big cell to bigger cell until they’re allowed to roam free within the confines of the prison yard and do whatever they want.
Four warders guard the prison. They work in pairs. The first two are tasked with discouraging the prisoners from seeking more freedom, thus encouraging them to stay in their little cells. They are officers Fear and Doubt. The other two actively encourage prisoners to apply for more room, seek new ground, expand their possibilities. They are officers Imagination and Action.
Each pair uses different tactics. Fear and Doubt remind the prisoners how comfortable they have it in their little cells, and that a prison is a prison so there’s no point in gaining more ground there. They remind them of the last times they tried and how they failed woefully. They are very persuasive officers – very good at their job. Imagination and Action, on the other hand, are not so good. They are not men of many words. They hardly bring up the past. They only encourage the prisoners to envision a different kind of life within the prison, and go for it!
Many listen to Fear and Doubt and are even grateful to them for opening their eyes to the prison’s comfort zone. Only a few listen to Imagination and Action and do something to change their situation — realizing that life truly begins where the comfort zone ends.
The human mind is an elastic prison with almost boundless boundaries that can be expanded by the extent of one’s imagination and decisive action. A prison that can only be escaped when one is out of their mind, and that’s no good place to be. So, it’s a prison to be enjoyed. We best make the most of it while we’re stuck in there. What we’re able to conceive in there determines what we’re able to achieve out in the world, so why not explore its endless possibilities? Why not let our imaginations soar and back that up with some action!
We cannot stay hopeless and helpless, crippled by fear and doubt and left confined in a world where we’re afraid to make mistakes and, hence, progress. While we may be everywhere in chains, limited by what we’re able to conceive in our minds, we must realize that the mind is a powerful place with very expansive confines. Every creation of man we see in the world today was first created in there, with many more to come. It’s a sacred gift from God, the mind; a tool that must be wisely utilized.