The Two Freedoms

I was 24 years old, foot-loose, and fancy-free.

I had no bills, no address, no house, no family, no obligations.

I slept in the back of my 1989 Toyota 4Runner.

I had nothing to my name but that 4Runner, an apple box full of books, my Larrivée acoustic guitar, my amp, and my loop pedal.

Now, years later, with a wife, four kids, two businesses, and employees to care for, it would be easy to look back on those times and think of them wistfully as the “good old days” when I was free.

But the truth is, I wasn’t “free.”

Not as I’ve come to define it.

For you see, one of the books in that apple box was Paul Ricoeur‘s “Freedom and Nature”… a book that forever changed the way I look at freedom.

After reading it that summer, I came to realize we have not one but two freedoms:

The freedom to choose, and the freedom to live out what we have chosen.

The freedom to choose is meant to be a brief threshing ground we pass through on our way to living out our richly constrained life: nothing more.

If you find yourself whinging for the good old days when you “had no strings attached,” remember that without strings, we float impotent into the ether: shit-faced, alone, empty.

Remember that the so-called “strings” are in fact the harness by which you pull yourself belly first into your own life… the loving and laughing and weeping and child-raising that make up the one precious life you have chosen.

The old “free to choose” form of freedom you had in your twenties isn’t worth pining for.

It was just one stop along the way to unleashing yourself as you have, narrowly and with terrifying, joyous specificity, upon the world.

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