Career of freedom
Today I feel free. This has been my dominant feeling for the last ten days and I have felt freer and happier than I have in a long time. The immediate cause is that I finished work Friday week ago and I'm delighted. Euphoric even. I liked my last job, it went well and I was pretty positive about doing it, but I'm excited and happy not to be working right now. I'm excited about getting to do what I want, about having the time and space to flesh out what that is, and some time off to simply enjoy myself and see what happens. Most importantly I want to regain or rediscover or perhaps create anew the passion for what I do which I feel has been weak or lacking over the last few years.
I'd like to write at length about this sense of freedom, but in this forum I'm not sure how to. I still have not worked out how to use this blog to express myself in a way that I'm comfortable with being completely public – comfortable with former and potential future employers reading in this case, for example. My assumption when writing here is that anyone I know, and of course people I don't, can and quite likely will read it. While I don't use my real name it would take minimal effort for someone who knows me to identify me as the author of this blog, and therefore what I write here is essentially under my own name. There's a lot more I'd like to write examining what I think about my blogging, but in an effort to avoid being too self-referential I'm going to leave that for another day, and a more in-depth exploration. I expect this period of freedom will also allow me to wrestle with that issue further, as well as writing a bit more often. So instead of either of these topics, I am reflecting a little on freedom as a whole.
What does it mean for me to feel free? And why do I feel freer this week without a job than I did 10 days ago with one? I'm not a slave. I'm not held in bondage, in chains or as someone else's property, as millions of people still are in today's world, more people according to some estimates than were slaves at the 'height' of slavery around 200 years ago. I'm not in prison, locked up against my will. I'm not being physically forced by anyone to do anything. I'm not even suffering from compulsion, mentally unable to control my own behaviour. I'm not an addict, where a substance is in control of me. And none of these things have changed in the last ten days – I've never been a slave or a prisoner, I wasn't in a situation where I was being physically forced or anything like it, I wasn't psychologically compelled and I wasn't suffering from addiction. I had not in any major sense given up my freedom or had it taken from me, simply by having a job. I wasn't even in dire financial straits, though in that case choice would still be being exercised. Yet I feel freer now because I do not have a job than I did when I had one. I feel a great sense of possibility and excitement, a sense that I can do what I want.
Perhaps it's simply that I have given up the major responsibility of working for someone else. I had made a commitment to do something, to complete my work, and I also felt a personal desire to honour that commitment. I also wanted to complete my work well, which can bring its own sense of commitment, but that's a different story. So when I had a job I had an on-going commitment to someone and a task outside myself, and now I have very purposely made no commitments. I have rid myself of the responsibility of a job. I can do what I want, when I want, in the way that I want. Certainly in a more direct way than I could when I had a job.
There is no such thing as 'have to', action is always a choice except – possibly, there is a bigger debate there too - in some of the cases above, where freedom has been explicitly curtailed. But once a commitment is made, there is the sense of 'having to' do various things to meet that commitment, though one knows that one still has the choice not to do them, and that the sense of 'having to' do those things is contingent on the larger commitment. So now I don't have even those smaller obligations or pressures to do certain things.
I'm not sure if this feeling of freedom comes solely from the removal of that large commitment to a job and the consequent responsibilities it brought with it. Perhaps it is that in this space I realise and feel my freedom more keenly. I was always free and felt free, I was aware of it and grateful for it, but here and now I feel it more strongly, and the desire to live and make the most of my freedom is more powerful. I'm enthused and excited by my own freedom and importantly I'm also enjoying the feeling of it, sometimes I feel almost giddy with potential. It's a good feeling and one I value. I think being more conscious and appreciative of freedom can only help me to do what I want and what is worthwhile, now and in the future. A commitment to being free? Quite possibly. Now, I'm starting out on my career of freedom, and it's definitely a job for life.