Freedom is a really dangerous concept. All true sources of power are. That’s why it’s so important to know where your own idea of freedom lies, and realize what pursuing it really means.
For me, this is an ongoing conversation. The answers are different every day, because the choices change. Asking the question keeps me awake, because it’s very easy to fall asleep, because plenty of people are always out there trying to sell us their idea of freedom, and get us to give them our time, energy–and money, in its pursuit.
So first, what is freedom to you? If you could do anything with your life, what would it be?
This isn’t an easy question, but it’s one of the most important ones you can ask. Without it, you are at the mercy of those who will define the boundaries of your life for you.
For example, I’ve been handed two very large chunks of freedom over the past year. First, I was handed back a large amount of my time in the form of an hours cut and a schedule change. Three whole days a week are now mine to pursue my dreams, and I can actually get up at a decent hour instead of having to be out of the house long before daylight. On top of that, I was handed most of the money to take the trip I’ve wanted to make for most of my life.
You’d think I had it made, no? Well, yes, but now I have to make it real. In order to do that, there are choices to make, questions to answer. For me, it’s where to go and when. What does my music want of me, and how do I turn that into a livelihood? Do I busk today, blog, or write music? What’s fit to record, and what’s the next step to the album? What shape does a life making music have?
Where in your life are you? Your choices are different at age twenty than they are at age fifty.
Having a mortgage, a family and a job is a very different situation than being twenty with a backpack and an instrument. Both have their advantages. Having a day job, and a growing livelihood at the same time, is a constant process of switching gears. A life as an employee is easy, just show up on time and do as you’re told. Creativity is possible, but it is exercised within narrow lines, in service to the organization one is part of. Being able to just take off and put your whole life into your dreams is scary, but can be the fast track. Knowing what you really want is the hard part.
If you found yourself free to do anything tomorrow, what would you do? Where would you start?
Truly, you are already free. We all are. We make choices every day, to go to work, to school, to do nothing at all. Why do you do what you do, and what parts of it are meaningful to you?
So freedom isn’t free. That has always been true, but the meaning of those words is fluid, and easily twisted. Fighting for freedom is certainly one of them, but if things have been allowed to deteriorate to the point of warfare, we have been asleep at the switch. I’m thinking more in terms of the person who has just won the lottery and quit their job. Many people daydream about that, and about what they’d do if it happened to them, but very, very few are ready for it when it happens to them.
What do you need to do in order to bring your life in line with your awareness?
What are your goals? What can you do right now? This year? Where do you want to be in ten years? Is it possible to pursue your freedom within an existing organization, or do you need to strike out on your own? Can you build this life beside your existing job and pursue it after retirement?
It took me from last summer to now to make a dent in any of these questions. I had to be flat on my back for a couple of weeks before I was forced to consider them seriously. I had begun the process, done some basic things like acquired a good mic and created a place to work, and then suddenly I was unable to do anything at all. I choose to view this as a blessing, the chain of events that put me on the road I’m on now. I hope you choose an easier way to put yourself on your own path, if you aren’t already walking it.
If you are walking this path, where are you? How did you get there? Where are you going from here?
If you aren’t, do the questions above have any meaning for you? What questions would you ask? What are your answers?