Freedom is an ironic thing. Just like fire, if you know how to use it, it keeps you warm or cooks you a meal. If you tamper with it, it might just leave you with a scar or even wipe out your life. I earned, or rather, got my freedom almost like a free pass at a very young age. As an Indonesian-Chinese who moved here by myself in response to the 1998 racial riot in Jakarta, I spent most of my teenage years with a good deal of freedom without realising it that, I often seek guidance by questioning myself or asking people around me for directions (Side joke: I am in my 30s now and is asking the universe when is the good time to conceive a child). Or perhaps, because I’m the youngest among my four siblings, my parents were, for lack of a better word, less concerned about raising another daughter. As a result, my view on freedom today is very prudent, even though I’m free to lead my life in tandem with my husband, I am always very cautious with my every move.
I’ve never really thought about any of this until I got married and found differences in the way my husband and I look at freedom. Growing up, my husband had a lot less freedom just by the fact that he grew up with his family. Traditional household rules applied; pets were not allowed and time spent on playing games was limited. Once we moved in together, we quickly found ourselves outnumbered by our pets (the ratio currently stands at 6:2) while his time dedicated to playing games is spent like as if he’s trying to compensate for time confiscated before. To me, his idea of freedom is to do whatever he wants.
We come from very different schools of thought, but somehow, it works. His trait of wanting to have plenty counters my slow, calculated move to stock up on things (remember when toilet rolls were out of stock? I didn’t have to worry). His impulsiveness to adopt a fifth and sixth cat (a mother and son stray duo in the neighbourhood) is countered by my, well, accountability to plan the future.
Everyone has their own definition of freedom, but how it plays out for everyone is different. Some of us here at ELLE Singapore discuss this in this month’s ELLE Asks as we ponder the question of how our relationships have been impacted by this pandemic. And while the freedom to travel is one that is unfortunately still hindered, this month, we choose to go places with the eye. Take one of the many virtual tours available online (like Gucci’s No Space, Just a Place. Eterotopia with audio guide courtesy of our cover star Kai) or enjoy a creative campaign that includes a visit to the virtual world, like Animal Crossing with Valentino or the vintage sci-fi and fantasy literature worlds that come to life in Louis Vuitton’s latest campaign.
Don’t be disheartened and you’ll realise that you can find freedom at home too. Tomorrow, change your perspective and realise that there’s freedom in planning out your day during this WFH period — you finally have the time to start reading the book that has been sitting next to your bed. Stop whining, and take these wise words from our cover boy, Kai, to heart, “There is going to be a tough time for everyone at least once in their lifetime, and it’s not so bad a thing to be positive and think of precious things to get through it. Most importantly, just because you’re going through something difficult doesn’t mean you should hate yourself or be hard on yourself, because the most precious thing in the world is yourself.”
Enjoy this month’s issue! I’ll be counting down to writing my next editor’s note from the real editor’s desk (not the dining table).