Freedom

(Please note that this entry should have been posted before the most recent entry but I made a mistake.  So if you wanna read this in its intended chronological order, read it before the Virginia post.  Oh yeah, please also imagine a sign saying ‘Welcome to Maryland’ and something nice written underneath like ‘…where Mary is always welcome…’!)

With Philly another city to check off on the phantom list of ‘…cities that we’ve visited that we can now check off of our list of cities that we’ve visited…’ it was on to our first night on the road to freedom in the good ol’ U.S of eh?

Freedom.  A word with a huge amount of gravity and not without a degree of controversy.  Many people have a different understanding of what the word freedom means, indeed it can mean many different things to us all.  Our differing ideas of freedoms meaning can lead to arguments, fights, even wars.  People die for their freedom, they die for other people’s freedom.

In recent years, I’ve looked at those around me who have been, to some degree, successful (but again, that word carries different meanings to all of us) and thought ‘at what cost success over freedom’, or at least what my idea of freedom entails.  I guess I should mention what the ‘success’ I see represents, or rather what represents success in the World I see around me.  I guess, in the World I occupy with the people who surround me, success comes in having, to some degree, a secure career, a certain degree of wealth, maybe habitual security, relationships you can count on and a comfort with the life that you have built for yourself.

But then people say to me things like ‘I wish I could do what you do and just go travelling’ or ‘you know, I think its great that you can just up and leave without worrying about the future’ or ‘don’t you worry about just quitting your job and having no money?’ and other ridiculous things of the sort.  And it always makes me think something along the lines of ‘please don’t spout that shit to me cos if you really wished to do something, you’d just do it’!!  That’s honestly, almost word for word what I think! (I curse a lot in my mind!)  And when I mention this internal prose to people, the excuses they tend to come up with are along the lines of ‘well, I’ve got a good job’ or ‘I couldn’t give up the money I make’ or ‘I like my things around me’ or, and this is my favourite, ‘well, I’m about to buy a house’ or ‘I recently bought a house and I cant really leave for a couple of years’.  And in my mind, I’m screaming at them BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIIIIIIIIIIIIIT.  Don’t talk this BULLSHIIIIIIT to meeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

If you really want to do it, you do it.  If you don’t want it, don’t spout that drivel to me about wanting it just cos you don’t know what else to say.  Because you don’t want it.  You want to sound like you want it, maybe cos you think its cool to want it but that’s your ego talking and I’m not interested in your ego.

But then how much freedom do people ‘really’ want?  Does the idea of freedom actually scare people?  Maybe we aren’t comfortable with the idea of having to actually leave the ‘comforting shackles’ of society to pursue freedom.   Maybe freedom is being able to be free for a small period of time before going back to the security of the life you live, with the creature comforts that you think make you happy.

Benjamin Franklin once spouted: “Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

I don’t know within what context he was talking.  But I assume he was talking about a freedom with more weight to it then the freedom of being able to ‘go travelling’ or ‘to do the job you really want’ or ‘to have the money to buy the cheese you really like’.  But maybe he wasn’t.  Maybe he was talking about exactly those things.  Maybe he saw a society being consumed by ‘things’ and therefore being trapped by those ‘things’ that stop them from living the way they want to live and therefore being free.

I’m not saying here that I’m totally free, in fact, in our society and by our, I mean the Western society, to be completely free takes more effort then most of us would ever be able to muster.  We all rely on something, whether it’s a store to buy food from, a manufacturer to make our clothes, an institution to enable us to make money, a bank to hold that money, indeed reliance on money itself in some form of capacity (although that’s a level of discussion that I don’t feel this is the platform for right now, mainly because a) this isn’t a discussion and b) to delve into the freedom needed to live without money would take time I don’t have at this moment).  And therefore, in my mind at least, that makes us ‘un-free’.

But I find it sad when I think that the people I love would rather be doing something else than the something they are currently doing and I cant help to think that they are losing sight of the amazing gift that not only life is but the life that they have been lucky enough to have been given, i.e. the life of opportunity, the opportunity to be whoever you want and to do whatever it is you want to do; the life of personal freedom.

And I guess it was with a greater sense of freedom than I have felt in a long time that we headed in our wheelyhome to an uncertain future on the roads of this vast country with its plethora of different people and places and spaces.  Of course, I’m still not totally free, I rely on petrol stations, stores to buy food, a vehicle to enable me to keep moving.  But it’s a greater form of freedom than that which I have had for some time.  To paraphrase another person of some intelligence, Robert Frost, ‘Freedom lies in being bold’ and so with boldness it was that we headed through the state of Maryland, past this nations capital and towards a first nights sleep under the stars of the ‘land of the free’.

When we first bought our Trixiebelle off of a couple of friendly Kiwi’s back in September of last year, we were enlightened by the fact that you could sleep in WalMart car parks for free, with the added bonuses of a security patrolled area and a toilet for your morning woo woo’s.  And those of you who have experienced these ramblings of mine from a past expedition will have noted that a morning’s revelry in a porcelain palace is of utmost importance and extreme relief.  I balked at the time of spending my eves of freedom spent in the car park of one of Americas largest corporate businesses.  I think I said something along the lines of ‘I aint sleeping in a fuckin’ WalMart car park, we’re on the road, man, America’s our bedroom.’

The fool I felt when a) we slept our first night in America under the safe eyes of the WalMart security guard and b) the next morning I was reminded of the above quote.  Initially I thought it kinda pikey to be sleeping in a car park.  And I guess to a lot of people it is.  But when you’re at the mercy of those people who live in cities and either make the rules or make it their business to break the rules, somewhere semi-secure can be a comfort, no matter how ‘concrete and corporate’ the surroundings.

And I guess that’s where the freedom I mentioned I was a part of became just another fantastical philosophy.  Because although we were free to pick where to rest our weary bonces that first night, there was too much at stake for us to use the stars as our ceiling and the compassion of man as our blanket.

So it was with the distant glow of a flashing orange security light and a rather large piece of humble pie in me gob that I bade my lady ‘bon soir’ and fell into a dreamland in which I shared a dinner with my favourite people from history, armed with laser eyes and 4 stomachs.

At least we are free in our dreams…

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