I struggle constantly with the idea of freedom. People see my wandering ways and they tell me they envy my freedom, but i wonder, would they trade what they think of as my ‘freedom’ for what they think of as their ‘security’? Would I trade mine for theirs?
My personal favourite flavour of dukkha is the usual first-world problem: too many choices. Its not that I fear that any of the myriad possibilities in my life will turn out regrettable or hellish – but which one to pick, which way to turn, that is my suffering. Storm-tossed i wish for some rock to cling to. Sometimes i feel completely exhausted by the options in this unfettered world and i swear i would trade my free-floating life in about half a moment for one big old anchor. For the feeling of purpose and place. For warmth in the night. For that comforting sense, that sense of security.But of course it is only just that. A sense. A delusion. Lovers leave, children grow up and move on, homes burn to the ground, money carefully banked and invested vanishes in a spasm of politics. In spite of what the investment-fund hawkers and marriage brokers would have us believe, everything changes, everything ends, everyone dies. Nothing is really known and nothing is secure.
Roots, responsibility, grounding. When do these become a big boring drag? When our minds make them so. A man once wrote me to say he worked for the phone company, in a veal pen. He complained that he was trapped and wished he could have freedom. I mulled that over for a while … is the right and ‘free’ action in that moment of unhappiness necessarily to stand up and walk out of the office? Is that really the only expression of freedom? – and then i thought, i wished i had suggested, that all he needed to do was to choose to choose. If he chose to work for the phone company, right now in this moment, then in that moment of choosing he was completely free. In the next moment, when he might in fact choose to get up and walk out of the cubicle and away, he will then become just as free as he is right now. The freedom of this moment enables the freedom of the next. Prisoners in maximum security institutions sometimes find brilliant freedom in acceptance, while those of us with all the physical resources and options in the world can also be slaves to our own goofy and desperate patterns. I’m a free grownup, goddamit, and I am perfectly capable of being miserable in paradiseâ€”or happy in hellâ€”if I want to be.
Tossing the coin in the air it flashes in the sun: freedom – security – freedom – security. Dazzling. Words scratched into air.