Freedom isn’t free

February 4, 2010

Teotihuacan, Mexico

Today I’m writing to you from the base of an ancient, Pre-Colombian pyramid in Central Mexico that pre-dates the Aztecs. Frankly this wasn’t part of my plan at all, but the reason I ended up here has a lot to do with living free.

Freedom is something that I think all people want more of in their lives– freedom of choice, freedom from financial constraints, freedom from bureaucracy and fear, etc.

One of the burdens of freedom, though is knowing what to do with it once you have it.  When the artificial handcuffs are finally broken, what are your real priorities?

In this case, for me, my priority was taking a stand.

You see, I had just spent the last two weeks in Panama– it was a great trip; I concluded quite a bit of business and attended the wedding of a close friend. Now I’m headed back to Thailand to work on a large deal out there that I hope to tell you about soon.

The most direct way from Panama to Thailand would be connecting through Los Angeles. But I absolutely refuse to transit through the United States anymore, unless I plan on staying for a while.

In my opinion, the US border is truly a “rights-free zone,” and it’s something that I simply will not subject myself to, at least on a short transit.  The sneering, the suspicion, being treated like a criminal by some gun-happy bureaucrat… I refuse to participate.

Consequently, when I was booking the ticket for this flight, the conversation with my travel agent went something like this:

Me: I need to get to Bangkok from Panama City on the 2nd or 3rd, what do you have available?

Her: Well, I can send you through LA, and then on to Bangkok after a short connection.

Me: Negative. I won’t go through the US.

Her: Uhhhh… OK… <checking> The only other thing I can do is send you through Mexico, but you’ll have to spend the night. Then connect the next evening through Vancouver, but you’ll have to spend the night again. On the 3rd day you’ll fly from Vancouver to Bangkok.

Me: Sounds good.

Her: Wait, so you’d prefer to spend 3-days traveling rather than take one stop through the US???

Me: Pretty much.

Her: Wow…

Some people might call me stubborn, or suggest that ‘security’ at the US border is for the common good. I don’t buy it, so I decided to take a stand. In exchange, it is costing me extra time, but I have the freedom to trade time for my principles.

After a three and a half hour flight from Panama City, I landed in Mexico this morning without the slightest idea of how I would be spending the next 30-hours.

Unfortunately, it was raining and the weather was miserable… but I have an American Express card. Problem solved. Again, I had the freedom to choose my desires– in this case, better weather.

30 minutes later I was in a rental car, throttling down the highway in the direction where I could see sunlight breaking through the clouds… no plan, no destination, just looking for a bit of better weather. And that’s how I ended up at this pyramid eating the best quesadillas I’ve ever had.

Freedom is a great thing, and fundamentally, this is what our conversations are all about: how to achieve more of it. Planting multiple flags gives us freedom of choice and security; business and investment opportunities give us financial freedom and control of our time.

There’s an old saying that I find absolutely true: “Freedom isn’t free.” Achieving more freedom requires effort, it requires investment, it requires dedication, it requires a long-term outlook. Most of all it requires the will to pursue it.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.   What’s important to you and do you have the will to pursue it?  Post your comments below.

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