Some time ago an acquaintance of mine read something I’d written about
“a carefree day.” He looked up at me, frowning. “I don’t think I’ve ever
had a carefree day…”
With hindsight, I believe him. He was driven by some unseen demon of
one sort or another. On another occasion I visited him on a cold winter’s day,
in the chilly upstairs room in his barn, riding his stationary bike like it was the
last leg of the Tour De France. He had a towel around his shoulders, two
bottles of water at hand and was covered with sweat. It was quite a sight.
“You’re in great shape, man,” I said. “Why do you push yourself this way
every single day?”
“Because you couldn’t stand me if I didn’t…”
Freedom means something different to nearly everyone. It can be racial,
cultural, sexual, artistic or personal, and many other/different kinds.
The freedom that comes with good physical and mental health also comes
to mind. Most of us know that special feeling of freedom that we most enjoy.
Being a white, middle class straight male in America, i have always taken
the first three of those for granted. Born with no birth defects, I have all
my limbs and senses still intact after all these years, and so also take
freedom of movement for granted. “What an easy life,” you might think.
“Pretty much born with a silver spoon…” and you’d be right. My lot in life
could hardly be better. But if I take all these cherished freedoms for granted,
which I try not to do but do anyway, then what sort of freedom would be
precious to me??
MJ Williams and I, jazzing out in Helena, MT
Throughout this lifetime, my primary passion has always been playing
jazz piano. What it does to me and for me, how it transports me, how it
resonates through me and completes me… we’ll save those considerations
for another discussion, another time. The point here is that my sharpest,
deepest sense of freedom is artistic freedom… fused with the spontaneity
of instant choice. Now granted, it’s possible that all this can be explained
as one huge indulgence of momentary personal emotions and desires.
And I think that’s true, to a point. In its higher form, however, my concept
of artistic freedom is a series of spontaneous moments all strung together,
creating the heady and highly satisfying experience of… a carefree day!
B & I, Cinco De Mayo
A whole day of instantaneous, self-serving decisions based only upon how
you feel at that very moment?? Oh, absolutely! The idea of “where our
emotions can take us” is a potentially wonderful thing. It’s the exact opposite
of “living on a treadmill.”
Virtually all of the stars of the Alaskan reality shows have said, at one time
or another, “It’s the freedom. It’s the best thing about living here, it’s what
makes me happy, what completes me. I do what I want, when I want,
where I want. And because it’s Alaska, that freedom is compromised only by
the weather, the seasons and the tides. I can live with that.”
Obviously freedom, in its countless forms, is more important to some than
to others. And once again, it’s all perception. I’d bet there are people in jail
who finally feel free to write, read, think and contemplate without distraction.
Personal freedom is not attractive to everyone, and it becomes one of the
many, many things that make us so different, each from the other. I cherish
my curious form of freedom, this freedom of spontaneous creation, and
I hope you are living in the freedom of your choice, as well. For it’s when
we are living inside our passion with the freedom of choice close at hand,
that our true selves can finally emerge.