Here we are!
Can I just take a moment to say it makes me smile how closely the name of this final stage aligns with the title of my second book, Free to Live? That’s the one about living unschooling where I delve into the four lifestyle characteristics that I found had the most positive impact on our unschooling. Those fundamental characteristics continue to weave through our days, even as unschooling and living have become synonymous.
And one of the most meaningful realizations I’ve had along the way is that we—humans, children and adults alike—are always growing and changing. We see it in our children and, as our self-awareness grows, we recognize it in ourselves. I love how Campbell describes this:
The hero is the champion of things becoming, not of things become, because he is. He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the “other thing”), as destroying the permanent with its change. (The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell, p. 209)
We are always “becoming.” Growing and changing. Living and learning.
It seems the one constant in life is change.
As I wrote that, it felt familiar so I did a quick search and found “the only thing constant in life is change,” attributed to François de la Rochefoucauld. He lived in the 1600s. Campbell first published this treatise on the monomyth of the hero’s journey in 1949. This feels like a foundational idea about the human experience, regardless of the era in which you live.
Before we embarked on our unschooling journey, reading those words would have probably sparked a sinking feeling in our gut, indicative of a generalized fear or worry about the future. Oh no, what’s going to happen next? Don’t we always assume the worst?
But as we come to appreciate change as our lifelong bedfellow, we begin to see choices shining everywhere. Releasing our fear of not knowing where change may lead feels like a weight has been lifted. Possibilities start to bubble up from our depths. Wow!
One of the cool things I’ve found over the years is that this refreshing perspective really frees me up to fully engage in the moment. Even challenging moments feel less paralysing because I realize their transience. Able to breathe, I can more easily find that moment, that beat, between action and reaction where I can see the bigger picture and use it to light my path, to see the possibilities.
The freedom to live—fully live in each moment—grows as we stop holding onto it so tightly. We know in the depths of our soul that life flows. Through both calm and turbulent waters. Sometimes we’re the rock being polished and sometimes we’re the leaf bobbing gently on the surface. We can be both. Whatever the circumstances call us to be.
And what’s even more beautiful is that we begin to recognize this flow of life in others. We more clearly see the stage they are at on their journeys. We feel less judgemental, and more compassionate. Their choices, their actions and reactions, say more about where they are on their journey, than they do about us and ours. Our journeys are our own.
This is so freeing when we’re and about! We can be ourselves. Our upbeat attitude carries a spark of our joy into the ordinary world. We are, in Campbell’s words, living our bliss. When you and your family are out in the world (whether in person or online) you are a shining example, even without words, that there are other possibilities and perspectives besides the daily, conventional grind of life.
And if anyone is genuinely curious, I bet you’re happy to answer questions and chat about your experiences. 🙂
So what are the fundamental characteristics we’ve developed and/or strengthened on our unschooling journey that help us embrace the flow of life?
I think these are some of the important ones—
- We’re comfortable in our own shoes/with ourselves, regardless of how others see us.
- We’re comfortable making choices, and open to where they may lead.
- Because we aren’t attached to the outcome, our sense of self isn’t riding on what happens next. We feel centred.
- We are patient, giving things time to unfold. We know there may be possibilities we have yet to envision.
- We know we will always have more to learn. We will change and grow.
I can see my entire unschooling journey in these five words: Unschooling is learning is living.
And that living is beautiful. It’s active and engaged. Powerful and compassionate.
That is the freedom to live.
If you’re inclined to share, I’d love to hear about your journey in the comments! Here are a few questions about the “freedom to live” stage to get you started:
1. Does the adage “the only thing constant in life is change” ring true for you?
2. What additional characteristics have you developed on your unschooling journey that help you embrace change and the flow of life?
3. If you have an unschooling blog, or instagram feed, or another online tool for sharing glimpses of the unschooling days on your journey, please feel free to leave a link! Let’s see your shining examples of living joyfully with unschooling. 🙂
The road so far …
Departure phase of the journey
Call to adventure: We discover unschooling and excitedly imagine the possibilities.
Refusal of the call: The many implications of choosing unschooling hit. Do we commit?
Supernatural aid: Our children guide us on our unschooling journey.
Crossing of the first threshold: Confronting the guardians who claim to protect us.
The belly of the whale: Transitioning to a learning mindset.
Initiation phase of the journey
The road of trials: The heart of deschooling.
The meeting with the goddess: Seeing the value in all experiences.
Woman as the temptress: Accepting our nature.
Atonement with the father: Accepting others where they are.
Apotheosis: Moving to compassion.
The ultimate boon: Unschooling with confidence and grace.
Return phase of the journey
Refusal of the return: Will we choose to step back out of our unschooling bubble?
The magic flight: Finding a safe place in the ordinary world.
Rescue from without: When the ordinary world comes knocking.
The crossing of the return threshold: Integrating your new perspective into everyday life.
Master of the two worlds: Seeing possibilities everywhere.