This Freedom Thing

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I've spent the last year, or so, considering the symbiotic relationship between freedom and bond-age and to a certain extent, freedom and love. It all started with Achali’s question/statement in the comments of the "On Wenches and B-Sides" post:

"I'm curious about the destination of your train of thought -- your take from your experiences and lessons in love's joys, complexities, oppressions and possessions. In what ways do these broad, strong thoughts bounce off of you -- in the tales and experiences that are familiar to you (personal, communal, etc)? For example, I wonder, in what ways -- as David Foster Wallace might have had some insight on -- might intellectual overexposure, or "hyper-internalization", of oppression and possession narratives and trajectories cause us to check out (if, of course, we don't first end up wholly buying into them somehow)? Wallace's meditations on the need for rebels in an American society, increasingly "networked" but non-communal, enslaved to self-consciousness-amplified-by-technology, and that "rebels take risks", are even more interesting in that light, making paramount the need for anchors (ironically, whom oftentimes are unpure and unsanitized -- bsides and bsides for days if we have time to listen -- yet beautifully human) you can trust without question."

It climaxed and “got real,” so to speak, sometime around December, when a friend jarringly opened what would become a recurring conversation, with a challenge that echoes in my head:

“I don’t know about you and this … freedom thing …”

I would begin to locate my response in an exploration of some of the philosophical themes in the movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun." My friend (another one) asked me to watch and then discuss with him my thoughts on each of the characters and we ended up looking into one in particular -- a secondary character who was presented as this free-thinking lady who "lived in the moment," and moved about as she pleased, etc. I thought that a schism appeared in the trajectories of this lady and the main character's when the lady crossed the threshold into a kind of existentialist realm. In her case, she was able to articulate her surroundings and conditions and desires and the philosophical "meaning of life" very well. And this is often the case. But at the point one crosses into existentialist thought, we concluded, even inadvertently, is when they divorce values, feelings, desires and ways of functioning from the actual function of living things. They are searching for and looking to supplant the instinct with ideas, ideals, ideologies. Through various ways, the other main character never let go of that ability to cultivate these things within nature, being mindful of how different cultural and spiritual "enzymes" and "substrates" can connect and manifest. It made me think about the precise ways these theories were manifesting in my life … and the extent to which the distance between my theory and praxis had widened, if only for lack of practice, and value-aligned experience. It was high time for me to distill the meta-analysis on this ... freedom thing.


One summer, in a boat in the middle of a lake just outside Minneapolis, I took a nap under the sun and lost all sense of time and place amidst the meditative utterances of my sister-friend ...

“I know God made this … I know God made this … I know God made this...”

This, meaning all that we were surrounded by in those moments -- the elements, the flesh. It was freedom, indeed. We were floating … we were anchored, but we were free. And within that, analogously, free to pull up the anchor and sail on when the time is right, or conditions are no longer optimal (choice). It became my point of reference.

Realistically speaking, despite the curiosity that many have for a Thoreau-like solitudinal experience -– one devoid of commitments and anchorage -- I have been taught, shown and have experienced that there are certain things that will always ground us in life and keep us "anchored": our family, our passions, our responsibilities, our respective communities, etc. And I enjoy interaction and the process of intimacy-building with these things. I think, too, it's in that process of growing with these "anchors" that removes (or perhaps tempers is the better word) the occasional feelings of obligation, because there would be an organic connection that would make us want to tend to it and help it grow -- especially if we can locate our sense of purpose, and sense of self within them. "Work," then, becomes a matter of perception.

In real life, the next step is finding a way to be understood by others, or at least by one other; ideally a community of others; and from there you cultivate compatibility, through time, through patience, through repetition. With freedom as the operating premise, and as the fuel to our interactions … then you'll get not only the very best of one’s self, but you'll get the most of a deeply rooted self. There's choice, free will, connection, anchor-age, bond-age, reciprocity and freedom flowing all through that. But the symbiotic nature of this dynamic suggests subjectivity or at least a contingency factor, or a conditional one. Which leads me to wonder, must freedom always be negotiated? Is "Man born free," as Rousseau would say (and goes on to say, "but everywhere is in chains")? Or must we always be granted our freedom? Maybe through understanding; through love; through reciprocity; through revolution; through emancipation; through force ...?

Consider Huey Newton’s notion of Revolutionary Suicide …

This is perhaps why Lauryn Hill asks in her song "Conformed to Love": "What is freedom but a fleeting notion?" I would take that to imply that perhaps we can never really truly understand or experience freedom without some sort of "anchorage" with which to base this freedom against/on ... to adhere to ... to conform to ...

Freedom must be rooted -- and there is boundless freedom in a true anchor/anchorage; and too, a truly functional anchor will help sustain one’s sense of freedom infinitely.

On another layer of freedom, my friend (another one -- unpure, unsanitized, who I could trust without question) once wrote me: “the freedom comes in choosing what you will pursue, work on, commit to … what truths you will explore and seek to master with your unique gifts and experiences. From there you accept mastery is a process … but then you will have the choice again (more freedom) to learn from them and gain wisdom, which in turns aids your further mastery. Our choice to endure that is what I think tests our worthiness of achieving mastery. Or we can choose not to and not attain mastery hopefully seeking another path with what we’ve learned from trying and rejecting another. Like water, my friend.”

And that, my friend, is the destination.

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