I am sitting by the window at a quiet-zone carriage, whooshed in a metal cabin from Copenhagen to Stockholm, making my return to this beautiful city after a fascinating weekend at the vibrant Danish capital. As I’m typing this post, I’m reflecting on my eventful Scandinavian summer thus far. We have only a few days left here so I’m greedily taking in the serene, bucolic sights and lovely, 16-degree weather, slow living before returning to a hectic lifestyle and the kind of weather that drenches us in perspiration and discontent. I couldn’t stop thinking about my trip to this particular area in Copenhagen that is unusually intriguing, to say the least.
The weekend trip at this very diverse and liveable city saw me stumbling upon this eye-opening commune famously known as Freetown Christiania. A claimed “utopia”. It even has its own flag and anthem. One of Denmark’s popular tourist attractions, it embraces anarchism and operates on three simple rules for anyone looking to settle themselves in this unique neighbourhood. Rule number 1: No running (a sign of which is a possible indication that a police raid is imminent). Rule number 2: No photo-taking (especially at the conveniently-named Pusher Street which openly sells soft drugs). Rule number 3: Have fun (no explanation needed).
As I sauntered down this hippie commune, cautiously holding my breath to avoid inhaling the hashish-filled air, witnessing a sea of smiling strangers negotiating a forbidden trade, heady and mildly inebriated as they gathered and swayed in front of the stage where a band played a hypnotic reverb and crooned a tune, I couldn’t help but feel… strange. Out of place. My heart felt extremely uneasy and I knew it was definitely a place I did not want to live in and leave from. I had never seen liberalism and hedonism widely manifest in one place. Coming from a strict, rule-abiding land like Singapore, you would say this concept sounds alien – a completely different world altogether. Here, I had never felt more grateful for the implementation of certain rules and regulation, haha. A fellow Singaporean who was with us during the trip commented how our government is conservative to a fault and that they ought to legalise many things which we currently restrict. I find myself quietly disagreeing. Perhaps I’d attribute it to the similar value system I subscribe to and strongly believe in. If happiness was absolute freedom of this sense, then I’ll be honest and say, I do not want it.
I opine that there is no such thing as absolute freedom, anyway. We are never truly ‘free’. I believe that true freedom does not exist in this temporary, material world. People who claim to have freedom in their hands are in reality, simply a slave to a different entity, a certain desire, and that could be embodied in many forms. People can be a slave to money, a slave to lust, a slave to drugs, a slave to work, a slave to people. The only true freedom is in being a slave to an entity that is above and beyond the material. This is where true freedom lies; a kind of tranquil in His remembrance that can’t be found anywhere else but in our complete realisation of our very purpose of existence. Which is not to seek happiness, joy, peace, or complete freedom to do anything we want, but to seek the kind of freedom that will release us from the delusions of this material world and to see, through the eye of our hearts, the absolute truth.
In this day and age where truth does not matter, where the prevalence of self-care and self-pleasure is aplenty, religion is placed at the back burner or downgraded to irrelevance. It’s a matter of sticking to values and being principled in an age where being principled is not trendy. It’s a matter of seeking the signs of God, in an age where God is seen as a fictional character. It’s a matter of having a strong conviction in His existence, and to look beyond the temporality of this world, this universe, and to be a people of deep reflection and contemplation, of balance and moderation. Of recognising falsehood as falsehood, and truth as truth. Human beings chase the elusive concepts of happiness and freedom. But these are impossible goals to attain.
I have never been so grateful and fiercely protective of this faith that has taken years to grow and cultivate in this turbulent heart. A visit to Freetown was a true eye-opener – it definitely made me think about this concept and to what extent are we truly experiencing ‘freedom’? There are so many different perspectives I am open to learning. And through these, I am left more grateful of my faith and conviction. I never wished to be pleased with satisfying my own whims nor freedom in its absolute; I only wish to seek pleasure with a God who has given me everything; a God who is pleased with me.