Freedom’s Just Another Word

I have never kept a diary, but if I did, it would be to its pages I would commit the seeming banality of the day-to-day, the little goings-on, meanderings of the mind – those projections, deductions, reflections. Yet one of the most engaging forms of prose I am drawn into expressing is similar in that its renderings validate my humanity.

It is in homage to that form that I continue writing, attempting to capture the fleeting feet of the rodent mind, going through patterns of living, scratching lice out of its mousy hair – lice, I mention not because I have ever had direct contact with the tiny humbugs, but because their minutiae seem kin to the scattered outpourings of a brain with little else to do in the expanse of surplus time I have created for myself, these days.

Many would envy my life – I envied my life today, several years ago. It’s funny when we think we have no choice. I yearned for freedom, visualized it. Treasured its presence by my bedside like a good book, carried it with me on trips to the market, turned it over in my head while folding laundry. I won’t say I was obsessed, for that would lack accuracy. It simply became part of my existence, partner to my daily routine, popping in from time to time to relay progress: I am still watching, I am still waiting. I am waiting for you to be still enough, firm enough in resolve, free enough to allow yourself to revel in my company. First the land sale. Then the move. Now this. Time. Freedom. Free time and time for free thinking, moving, being. And for months, I have cringed, run about, run around, run on. The habitual mind, fixated on recreating what has passed, those patterns and grooves and ruts it has known all my life. Or most of it.

What am I doing here? What is my purpose, if not actively employed in helping others? Who am I, then? What use am I to anyone, if I’m simply living life, sharing my days with whoever happens to cross my path, accepting the occasional consultation without pressure to fill an appointment book? Truly, a seeming surplus of time can drive a person mad. I flip through grad school brochures, contemplate another move. I live in Paradise, and I’m contemplating a move! Can I live with the perfection of my life, the freedom to swim in the sea, ride my bike, sit in a local café, enjoy a massage, work in the garden when Chris is willingly, happily even, casting bread upon water? Even when he insists, encourages, cajoles me into doing what pleases me (as clearly it is his opportunity to build a career in this place where mine languishes)? More pointedly, can I actually accept that which I have been asking for? Are we all this way? Are we all perpetually dissatisfied with the life we have created?

In a sense, the answer in my case seems to be yes. The mind so loves problem solving it is bereft with little to do. If I am satisfied, what now? Better create complexity out of simplicity, run the useless errand to fill the day, reinvent the wheel. Over and over. Lately I realize, in a somatic, visceral way, the inherent truth that we are all learning about life, not employment. Not about another, save for how this knowing helps us develop patience, empathy, tolerance, compassion. It appears to be enough, simply being with myself experiencing joy and discomfort, living with the gods and demons of my own making. I am here on earth to learn, whether through the challenge of a job, relationships, unemployment, leisure time, animal husbandry, organic gardening, observing the natural world, whatever.

I don’t really think my soul cares if I’m making money. And how this education plays out is more plan than mere accident. Perhaps to some degree fate dictates choices. I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that it’s not important who pays the  bills, as long as that person happily engages work as the medium in which they accept learning what is necessary for their growth, at least for now. Because honestly? Chris would cringe if he had the surplus of time I have acquired. It’s been far less pleasurable to accept leisure time than one might think. Again when I didn’t have it, I craved it. And is this not what we humans do? Grass being greener across the fence and all? 

It has taken me six years to accept that I can structure my days any way I choose. What am I worth, if I’m not making money? Or if I am only making it on occasion? Since I have worked one job or another 41 out of 58 years, it seems a necessary question to ponder. And what is discovered in the process – that journey – is ongoing.


8 thoughts on “Freedom’s Just Another Word

  1. “Are we all perpetually dissatisfied with the life we have created.” Yes, Bela, we are. The reason is that no matter how much we do or what we do, we will never even scratch the surface on what is available to do. It is not a matter that the grass is greener. It is instead that the grass is so plentiful and different and offers so much. As moronic as it may sound, the only way to become some what satisfied is to grasp the reality of dissatisfaction. Only when you realize you are limited in time and space can you enjoy what is in front of you. All of us must accept the half empty glass because there is not enough time to fill it.

  2. This is a wonderful post for me to start my week. The way you articulated with your insights have me reflecting as well. Bela, I truly hope that more of us can benefit from your wisdom. “Thank You.”

  3. “I chose the freedom of long unscheduled afternoons in which nothing happens but the slightest shift in mood is captured in a semicolon.” This is the writer character speaking in the novel Great House by Nicola Krauss. I remembered reading it and had to go back and find it. In my own lack of career progress at the moment, I ache sometimes to feel ‘valued’ – and then I must remind myself that those unstructured afternoons are a gift. In fact, I use semicolons well…
    I am sometimes accused of being a Pollyanna, but I don’t think this is so. There are often tradeoffs, it seems… You make me think, Bela. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to research the quote.

      I wonder if it’s simply that we humans have a drive in us that will not easily let us settle into sameness. After all, it was not that long ago we were hunter/gatherers, compelled to move from place to place to seek sustenance. Then we were agrarian, tilling soil, working from sunup to sundown. It has only been recently that some of us have the luxury of time on our hands, and maybe it’s unsettling to our DNA.

      I don’t know.

      I do know I love variety, the contrast of colors at sunset. The pauses between. They hold a certain positive tension, for me.

      “Too much of nothing can make a man feel ill at ease.” (Bob Dylan)

      All this being said, I know to my bones it is a gift, for as surely as the sun rises, things will one day change and I will yearn for what I now have.


      Thanks, Vivian! For your thoughtful comments and for your presence after my post.

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