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He was 16 years old when he first encountered freedom. He didn’t even know what it was until then. His perception of freedom, till that point, was leaving home when he had no obligations and doing things his parents couldn’t see or hear. He would go to a friend’s house, and they would listen to music. They had a great repertoire. There was some trashy stuff, but also socially and politically engaged rock and roll. Of course, they didn’t understand the context of expressing a stance through rock and roll, but at the same time, they didn’t think about the harm of trash to someone’s taste. Their choice, whatever it was, made them free beings.

At 16, he started lying. Those are that years. Some inexplicable force takes hold of your thoughts, and you lose interest in many things that were served to you as important till then. You skip classes for no reason, on your own. You listen to the same cassette all afternoon and evening instead of preparing for an exam. Your grades drop, pimples appear, and you don’t report parent-teacher meetings to your parents. You don’t do things you’re not interested in. But you have time to cut out pictures from Bravo magazine and paste them on your room’s walls – pictures of your idols, your icons of freedom.

For a while, this goes completely unnoticed. And then one of your actions that doesn’t suit you infuriates your parents, so they enter your room in their anger and tear apart all those carefully cut and pasted pictures on the wall. That hurts you. What does that have to do with your actions? Why does the wall bother them only now? Haven’t they seen the content so far? Are they letting you off the hook a bit and then punishing you?

He took down all the pictures from the wall.

He no longer wanted to be in a situation where someone judges his dreams, desires, and intentions and tears them apart without a trace of respect. He doesn’t tear anyone’s intentions in half or crumple them. But people give themselves too much freedom.

Hmm. Yes. Too much freedom. Can freedom have boundaries? Can there be too much or too little?

Yes, it can.

He realized that then. His freedom can threaten someone else. What he does and how he thinks may not be pleasant to other people. Someone can always feel fear of the spread of your vision of freedom. Everyone has their own understanding of freedom, its breadth, scope, and perspective.

Isn’t there a chapter in the law about this? Hasn’t anyone written a fair law that can limit and allow freedom for everyone? There are many of them.

Laws are there to shape the boundaries of freedom. Written and unwritten laws. Bad and good laws. Necessary and unnecessary laws. Arrogant and overly permissive laws. By the time you deal well with them and find a territory where you can move freely, you’ve already stepped into your forties.

Unless you’ve given yourself all the freedom with 16, which is much better.

I think about that boy every day. And every day I wonder how much freedom I still lack and how much of some foolish freedom I grant myself, which truly means nothing to me.

I’ll have to find an online course on freedom. Just need to find time between work, German lessons, walking the dog, training, and hanging out online.

PHOTO: Slobodan Hrnjak

Slobodan Hrnjak / Belgrade

Copywriter and wannabe photographer.

An observer of the world from this side. The one who believes that beauty is in words, harmony of shapes and colors, as well as good upbringing.

He hides himself behind the name @carringtoncolbi on Instagram, but he makes no secret of his love for eating popcorn at movie theaters and drinking prosecco in Venice.

All images and materials are copyright protected and are the property of Mr. Slobodan Hrnjak and

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