The True Meaning of Freedom (Isn’t Something You’ll Find in A 500-Word Blog Post)

Nobody is ever free. If my 39 years of life have taught me anything, it’s that. When you’re  a kid, you think you’ll be free when you grow up. But really you just trade one kind of authority for another: Instead of parents, you have laundry.

Happy Frickin Independence Day.

Look, I don’t know where this blog post is going. I wanted to say something profound about stealing your freedom one hour at a time, about getting up an hour before everyone and doing that one thing that makes you go… or doing something to figure out what that one thing is, your own personal thing.

But it feels like beating a dead horse. What else can I say? I get up two hours early in the morning now. One hour of freedom made me hungry for another. I do the things that make me go. I write in my novel (I hit 80,000 words this week). Then I blog. It’s incredibly freeing. And incredibly draining. Turns out, freedom isn’t something you get for free, wrapped up in a pretty package. I know, not fair, right? But it’s all been said before.

If you want to go deeper, here’s how you can wrest freedom out of the rest of your day too, from Justin Dye:

But you’re not going to truly find freedom in a 500-word blog post, not even one as scintillating as mine or Justin’s. You have to look deeper than that. Maybe into your heart or something. Why are you asking me, anyway? You have to do this bit yourself. That’s what freedom IS.

There are some things that help though. It helps me to read my uncle’s memoir of his time as a WWII POW. And oral slave narratives. Suddenly the alarm clock going off at 5am doesn’t feel like such a hardship.

(Start the video at 3 minutes if you want to skip to the good stuff, unless you have more patience for Ted Koppel’s rhapsodic monologues than I do.)

Did you hear that? Whippings, curfews, sunup to sundown work, mandatory church. Now THAT’s hardship. But something that former slaves mention over and over again, is this: No books. No reading. No writing. It was against the law for anyone to teach a slave to read. Even the ignorant plantation owners and the Thomas Jeffersons of the world understood that giving a book to a slave would be disastrous. Because learning destroys slavery. It’s true. You know this already.

So, if you like, maybe take a few minutes and read something today. Or do what makes you go, or figure out what makes you go. Because you deserve to be free. Happy Fourth.

P.S. This morning I opened a browser window and typed, “Do they have batteries in Nolin City” into Google. The results were underwhelming. That’s because Nolin City doesn’t exist, except in my novel. Freedom doesn’t make you sane. In fact, I’m pretty sure true freedom is the opposite of sanity. What harebrained things are you doing in the interest of your art or your freedom?

4 thoughts on “The True Meaning of Freedom (Isn’t Something You’ll Find in A 500-Word Blog Post)

    • Thanks!! I wish I were winding down. I’m just now winding up to the climax and it’s kicking my butt. I hope I can keep it in reason. I just wrote a synopsis for someone (insofar as I can synopsize a book that isn’t done yet), and realized just how many threads I have to pull into the climax… and got a little overwhelmed. One scene at at time, right. One scene at a time.

      (And to think, when I got started, I thought a 40,000 word novelette sounded like a lot.)

  1. “…But really you just trade one kind of authority for another: Instead of parents, you have laundry.”

    I love that. Such a great way of relating to being a grown up :) what I take away from this post is that freedom works like this: what you put into it is what you get out of it.

    And I couldn’t agree more.

    Wonderful and timely post. And thanks so much for the mention! I hope you have an excellent Independence Day!

    • Yes, that’s true, that you get out what you put in.

      Another thing I’m thinking about today is the story of a man who lived under the communist regime in Vietnam for 10 years as a young man. He eventually escaped to America and got a job as a janitor. When I spoke to him, more than 30 years later, he still recalled how overjoyed he was to have that job. “This was a free country,” he said. “I was so happy.”

      It’s humbling.

      Thanks for the comment, and happy 4th! Hope you have a good one.

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