I was part of a discussion this week within which this question–asked by my friend Flemming Funch of France–came up. Beyond the sheer amazingness that is Flemming himself, as a writer I intend to always stay close to him for the ample alliteration alternatives his very being offers.

One way I know I’m with the right people in any given moment is that new or deepening questions and answers well up within us. Questions that inspire us and feed us and prompt us to examine and share our own experience–like this one did. Questions that cause unique-to-us answers to spill out of us before we have time to think, judge, and stop them. In Lori Land, these are signs of a truly great question (TGQ).

Thank you Flemming for a TGQ. And thank you too, sassy-baby-fist-wielding superhero Seb Paquet, for starting the discussion.

Here’s what spilled out of me when Flemming asked about how we keep score about how free we are if money is a red herring…

“Flemming, off the top of my head…

  • how many moments of the day we’re conscious of being grateful
  • how many others we empathize with automatically
  • how many moments are learning moments
  • how more deeply ourselves we feel when doing our work
  • how much like play our work feels
  • how connected to everything we feel
  • how readily we smile and laugh
  • how ok we feel about doing what we do in any moment
  • how comfortable we are with discomfort
  • how conscious we are of what’s happening in a moment from all perspectives in the room not just one perspective
  • how free to be themselves others feel in our presence
  • how free we feel to be ourselves in the presence of any one or any situation
  • how much we trust the people and questions who show up spontaneously in our lives
  • how ok we are with letting things go
  • how fully confident we can be that abundance will hold us in the face of the illusion of scarcity
  • how much power we can see in a single kind word
  • how present we can be to find the good intent in a situation or person
  • how well we know ourselves and what we truly love

Good question. :-)”

The nice part about seeing this welling up in writing is that I can now see what I’m really working/playing/living/being for. This is the payment that I receive from my work/play/life/self/existence. On my best days, it’s also what I share and witness radiating outward from my communities, groups, and individual self, and then feel coming back to us in spades.

My own welling-up answer proves, if nothing else, that I LOVE this question and the guy who asked it. Also, perhaps, why I’m so well suited to blogging and storygathering. I struggle with bringing enough pithiness/briefer sound bites/empty space for others in conversation. I’m better here, where others can take all the time and empty space they need to ask and answer questions for themselves or roll their eyes and walk away without guilt to find their questions elsewhere. I look forward to the day when I become a poet and playing pithily with all others becomes as natural as breathing.

In the meantime, others in our discussion had the briefer answers that I sometimes ache for. For example, “the percentage of time we spend playing” feels like a pretty damn good measure of freedom to me.

This caused me to think several things at once. For example, another good answer could be “we stop keeping score altogether and become deeply satisfied with just being free.”

This briefer response also caused me to think more deeply about who the “we” is for me in the question. Because if I care about how free we are, then who my “we” is seems at least as important as how I define what “free” means to me. My own definition of free isn’t complete until I understand the unique answers to the question for everyone within my “we” too.

For the record, my “me” is planet earth and my “we” is all the living beings of earth. These definitions will expand the moment that visitors from elsewhere show up, but for now they keep me plenty occupied. And plenty free, as defined by me.

This brings me to the heart of what I want to experience. I want to experience all living beings on earth aware of themselves as wholly free, as defined by themselves. This means my “me” is happy. This means my “we” are free.

Yep, that’s a truly great question alright. It just introduced me to myself.