- 1. the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.”we do have some freedom of choice”synonyms:right to, entitlement to;
- 2. the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.”the shark thrashed its way to freedom”synonyms:liberty, liberation, release, emancipation, deliverance, delivery, discharge, non-confinement, extrication; amnesty, pardoning; historicalmanumission;raredisenthralment”the prisoners made a desperate bid for freedom”
A contradiction in term?
Freedom seems to be a really weird concept when you find yourself confined to a wheelchair. Some may even consider it a contradiction in term! Most people think that the chair is limiting, while for those of us who use it, it literally symbolizes our freedom. But, this blog is not about the chair, it’s about the freedom to roam.
Freedom & Inclusivity
Hubby and I recently had the privilege to travel to New Zealand’s South Island. I researched the destinations and sights we were scheduled to visit, as I usually do. I knew that there would be places I could hike and get around, fully expecting to have to resolve myself to watch and take most of the scenery in from a distance. The latter wasn’t the case at all. I wasn’t prepared for the freedom and inclusivity I would experience along our route. It took me completely by surprise and I will admit, at times, I was somewhat overwhelmed.
From Christchurch, to Queenstown, Milford Sounds to Wanaka and Franz Josef to Nelson, there were too many hikes and trails to mention where I was able to maneuver and handle myself. It was breathtaking and exhilarating and simply impossible to describe the feeling of safety, security and freedom.
I love the outdoors. Living in Durban, South Africa for most of my life, I have access to a variety of nature’s most beautiful scenes within a 3-hour radius from my home. I am surrounded by beach and bush, birds and animals and even SA’s Big Five! Recently, however, it’s become somewhat of a challenge and even a gamble to venture out on my own. Not only in terms of finding accessible hikes and trails, but most importantly, in terms of safety and security. I have a hard time exercising outdoors and enjoying as much of our nature, independently, as I would like.
At A Crossroads
Coming back to SA, I now seem to find myself at a crossroads. I’m loathe to compare and don’t get me wrong, I love my country. It is breathtakingly beautiful and offers loads, but my city, my country and our people don’t seem to be playing along. A combination of factors – a topic for a different blog! – rob us from enjoying what’s right on our doorstep.
I know I have it a little better than many others out there. Don’t misunderstand, I feel for them, but that’s not the point. This is about my perspective, my own perceptions and my own life. I can’t take responsibility for someone else’s plight. So, I’ll stick to my own and my question now has to be: Why can’t we get it right? Why are our beautiful scenes, nature trails and outdoors not more accessible? Why aren’t there random little hiking trails scattered all over our gorgeous outdoors to allow hikers, mountain bikers, wheelchairs, moms with prams, couples on a walk and the likes to enjoy SA’s scenic nature? It doesn’t make sense. If a country younger than ours can get it right, why not ours?
Freedom – Fighting for mine
I don’t have the answers and for now I am staying exactly where I am. Starting today, I will set out to find new pathways for me to explore. I will search for routes that will allow me to take in our scenes as safely and independently as I can. Most of all, I will search for the answers. Freedom is priceless and everyone’s right and I’m committed to fight for mine.
What are your thoughts on making our nature walk, trails and our outdoors more accessible? How do you think we can encourage SA’s children to enjoy our natural beauty?