Tuesday, 19 February 2008

FREEDOM, OR SOMETHING LIKE IT


"God means us to be free. With divine daring, He gave us the power of choice." - Cecil B. DeMille

Reality check: Am alive, yes just barely, I think… Am leading a remarkably hectic existence at the moment with several things happening in my life that impinge on my time and concentration (in no particular order):
a) I have started a new job.
b) I am continuing a huge medical dictionary project, where I am one of the three editors-in-chief.
c) I have just finished proof-reading my Greek novel and sent it back to the publishers for printing.
d) I am finalising a consulting project.
e) I have several (snail) letters to answer.
f) I am halfway through another gardening project at home.
g) I have promised to send a friend a chamber piece of music I have started to write and I am almost finished with.
h) I have to clean my desk in my study at home.
i) I have to clean my study at home.
j) I have a couple of social obligations that I can’t postpone any more.
k) I have to see a friend or two that I have neglected for a little while.
l) I have to spend time with my family.

Still, it seems that I can’t help myself and as soon as one task is finished (hmmmm, perhaps even before it’s finished!) I start another. It is a form of self-imposed enslavement, is it not? Yet, oddly I don’t feel imprisoned or constrained. I see these tasks as challenges, as enjoyable occupations, as demanding – yet fulfilling distractions.

We all yearn to be free, to be able to do whatever we wish to do, but if you think about it, what would you really do if tomorrow morning you had absolutely no compelling reason to do anything that you had done the previous day? No work, no family or friends to worry about, no household chores, no social obligations, no study, no other constricting or demanding impositions on your time. I don’t know about you, but I’d hate it. It would be rather like being a vegetable marrow or a sloth.

We all get the feeling sometimes of “Ughhhhh! I want to be free!” But what exactly is freedom? Is it merely the option of nominating one’s own form enslavement? Having the freedom of choice of one’s own fetters? And even if the opportunity for that kind of freedom appears magically, why do so many of us choose not to follow our whim and choose what we want to do? Strong attachment to routine, maintenance of the well worn rut of the status quo, a lack of courage, a strong sense of responsibility, financial considerations, family ties?

I am a middle-aged man who has decided to cut the chains of habit, who has done something different, who has overturned his life in order to be free to choose his own form of confinement. I have been in my new job for a few weeks now and so far I am enjoying it. There are new people, new tasks, new responsibilities, the new routine of the workplace, that is still tantalisingly strange so as to be interesting. There is that lightness of spirit that accompanies the cutting of a tether, the wonderful feeling of having a new space in which to prove oneself, new skies to soar in.

Artists will often choose freedom of action, freedom of expression, exploration of new horizons, trying out of new experiences over the security of well-tested routine. Most of us prefer the cosy arrangements that a well-regulated life brings. An existence that has no nasty surprises (but maybe no pleasant ones, either). Besides, there is the matter of the mortgage, the weekly shopping bills, gas and electricity…

I am fortunate to have made the choice that allows this relative freedom. As far as my busy schedule goes, that has not changed much. I always take on a lot and usually manage to deliver the goods when the crunch comes. A life should be filled with experiences, a life should be full of constant stimulations of the mind, constant challenges and goals to be attained.

PS: I have to add item (m) to the list above:
m) Visit my friends’ blogs on yahoo 360 (and multiply!)

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