Good early afternoon (on the day after the 4th of July),
The fourth of July brings back many memories for me. The earliest, and reoccurring, memoryis that of going to McCook Lake, SD with the Goedes, our family’s closest friends (both of our parents were perhaps major amigos). The other reason we went to South Dakota, which was only 5 minutes away from where I grew up in Iowa, is they had much laxer fireworks laws. However, every 4th for many years were spent at the Izzak Walton Club on the lake, swimming, grilling out, and shooting off fireworks most of the day. That is one of my favorite memories as a child. As I write this I am thinking of my best life-long friend, who is also part of that same Goede family as he struggles with ALS. Hard to believe in our 50s so much as changed. Here is a picture of when I actually had color besides gray on my head and in my beard.
As you who read know, I have been distracted and I am now just finishing my blog posting. Today is a day to get a number of tasks completed and I will try to get back to the initial intentions for this blog, the idea of freedom from what? or for whom? On the 4th I actually drove to Philadelphia and picked up my cousin, Diane, who has come to visit for a few days. It was probably the easiest trip I have ever made to Philly as the traffic was almost non-existent. On Saturday we went on a pretty long ride on the Harley and it was a beautiful day to do that. Sunday included a trip to NYC and a venue called Small’s Jazz Club, where we had the opportunity to listen to some amazing music and a participate in a colleague’s book signing. Some amazing food, a ferry ride, and a really long walk would describe the day, but it was a good day. Monday and yesterday were spent just enjoying time together and listening and sharing. I might have created a dilemma for myself in allowing two of the most important people in my life the opportunity to compare notes, but that is a chance one takes I guess.
It is actually about 2:30 in the morning (on the 9th) and I have been awake for about an hour, so I figured I should be productive. I started to move offices yesterday and I hoped to have that completed by week’s end. They are finishing some work on the little house today, and I sat down yesterday and mapped out the remainder of my summer. It is time for me to get back to work. I have actually taken quite of bit of time to relax this summer. That is a first in many years. I do have colleagues from WI here next week. I am hoping to acquaint them with the group I am putting together to help me manage what is to come. Diane asked me a number of times, “who takes care of you?” Well, I think after meeting Deckers last night, she is feeling better. Last night we got a dancing demonstration from Carolyn and Rosie. It was quite amazing and endearing beyond words. I am cognizant of a reality that I have let people into my life in ways I haven’t for a long time, if ever. There are times I am glad, but there are consequences too. It has made me more vulnerable, and I find that more disconcerting than one might think. It forces me to give up some control of my existence, or at least it seems so. That does not make me entirely comfortable. However, going back to work will help me manage some of that.
I guess that brings me to the posting title? What is freedom? Is it something individual? Certainly, it is. Is it corporate? John Locke actually addressed this in his “Second Treatise on Civil Government”. Indeed, when we are a society, whether that be a small group, a few like-minded-people or a larger entity, we give up things by the fact that we “bind” ourselves together. I cannot help but see Mel Gibson in the movie, Braveheart screaming out “freedom!!” as his last word. A bit melodramatic, but profound. What really provides a sense of freedom? Is it knowing what is to come? It is accepting what is to come? Is it the realization of knowing in an individual way what ultimately matters? What I am beginning to believe is that it is more than merely acceptance, but it is a belief and a comfort in the phrase “well-done, good and faithful servant”. But to what or whom are we in service? I believe that the term “serve” is often misunderstood. I think it is in serving or caring for others we actually begin to understand freedom. It frees us from selfishness. It frees us from always wanting more. A server has more power when she or he is serving than realized. She or he has much more influence on the circumstances than one might believe. I have the ability, the power if you will, to make some difference in another’s life when I care for them. It certainly has some other more difficult attributes or characteristics, but I think the positive far outweighs the negative. As I eluded, I am quite sure this specific element of my being was scrutinized the other afternoon. I understand my propensity for this more than might be realized. I also realize that fear hampers the very freedom I have been pondering. I can name that fear. I could before the conversations of the last few days, but Diane’s visit has validated some of the things I have puzzled upon for many years of my life. My biggest fear is a simple word, but a profound concept in my life. It is abandonment. It can have other synonyms, but that is the most accurate and comprehensive of the options.
To be abandoned is to be given the message that you are unimportant, irrelevant, discardable. What I have realized is if I move, walk-away, hide before someone can do it to me, I keep from being hurt. If I give versus being given-to, I protect myself on one level, but I expose myself on another. Being exposed is frightening; it is something that has often crested pain. It might be that unexpected problem of taking a chance and allowing another into your life or space. To be given away or ignored has been a safety net at times, but then again, it has been hurtful at others. Am I in the midst of walking away in a more profound way in this present circumstance? What happens when we are required to move, perhaps like when I left Wisconsin? What happens when other things force us to prepare for the other? Have I lost my freedom or have I gained it? It is 3:40 and I have to drive to Philadelphia and back today, perhaps a bit more sleep is in order. As an afterthought, I did go back to sleep, but was up at out of the house by 5:50. Perhaps a nap later will be in order also.
Thanks for reading.
3 thoughts on “Freedom . . . from what? for whom?”
Good morning! The first week of July is always special for me, being Canadian and living in the states- July 1st and July 4th are days that I often ponder the same thing you’ve written about. My favourite part of your blog is ” I think it is in serving or caring for others we actually begin to understand freedom. It frees us from selfishness. It frees us from always wanting more.” Service to others whether it be for an individual or perhaps for the betterment of all humanity seems the very basis for freedom. Sort of like the idea that without justice, peace cannot be easily found. What we tend to believe in with freedom is that it should exist for our own benefit yet it is when we rely on others that we create a safe harbour in which to chance the waters that might be treacherous.
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I was thinking about the idea of what it means to be someone who has friends. I am blessed that I feel like I’m starting to get to know people this semester, more so than I did in the fall. However, this is a frightening experience for me for many of the same reasons you wrote here in this blog. I’m always worried about saying or doing something wrong, and more than anything I want to be a good friend, student, coworker, daughter, sister, the list goes on. This probably circles back to the anxiety thing I have been trying to manage for some time now, but also a lot from my own life experiences. I’ve been pondering the fact that my own behavior is driven quite a bit by my past. It has not been easy to make progress there. I still hide at times when I feel overwhelmed, but I’ve been trying my best to be better about that. I often worry whether I’m actually making progress or just running in place.
My time in the workforce has been marked by jobs with a focus on serving in some way, shape or form. I think about what God wants, and much of that is about being good to people. You exemplify a lot of that in your life as a teacher and as a human, and I aspire to achieve the kind of Grace you carry with you through life. I also run into the problem of stretching myself too thin at times. In my own fragility, the fear of abandonment stems from the fear of not being enough for the people around me. I remember expressing my frustration to my younger brother about not being able to donate blood a few weeks ago because my iron was too low, and he responded, “You know, YOU need your blood, too, right?”
I think about what freedom would feel like for me, and I always say, “peace of mind.” Freedom for me would be putting a chair in the grass and watching it grow without worrying about what happens if it doesn’t. Thank you for your words, genuinely. 2 Corinthians 3:17.
Grace and Peace,