What is freedom? When do you feel most free in your job? In your day? Least free? When is it better to not be free?
Let’s start with Webster. Shall we? Webster’s definition of freedom is “The absence of necessity, coercion, or restraint in choice or action”. Based on that, i feel most free when I am at home, nothing is expected of me, I have money in my wallet, and gas in my car. That would be when truly no “choice or action” would be “restrained.”
With that definition though, I know of no one, who is truly free in that way. You may have a vacation come up, but even then it’s not a completely limitless realm of possibility. You only have so much money, so much time, and eventually you will need more gas! I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…
There was this movie a friend recommended to me a while ago, called “The Legend of 1900”. In the movie, the main character has lived his entire life on a boat. He has never been off it. He has never been on land. Not once! At the end of the movie the character is grown and the ship is going to be demolished so the man must now leave his home, the ship. When told that he could leave and finally experience “freedom” He says he can’t do it. His best friend asks him what he saw out there that made him unable to leave. This is his response:
“It wasn’t what I saw that stopped me Max… it was what I didn’t see.
Take piano: keys begin, keys end. You know there are 88 of them. Nobody can tell you any different. They are not infinite. You’re infinite… And on those keys, the music that you can make… is infinite. I like that. That I can live by…
You rolled out in front of me a keyboard of millions of keys, millions and billions of keys that never end. And that’s the truth Max, that they never end. That keyboard is infinite… and if that keyboard is infinite, then on that keyboard there is no music you can play. You’re sitting on the wrong bench… That is God’s piano.
Christ, did you… did you see the streets, just the streets? There were thousands of them! Then how you do it down there, how do you choose just one… one woman, one house, one piece of land to call your own, one landscape to look at, one way to die…?
Land? Land is a ship too big for me, it’s a woman too beautiful, it’s a voyage too long, perfume too strong…It’s music I don’t know how to make. I can never get off this ship.”
Perhaps one day, we will be ready for true freedom. But until then what would we do with it? I love parameters, restrictions, and guide-rails! I know that is weird but just think about it. Tell me to write a song, a book, a message, or even a blog, and give me something of a limit. “a 1,000 word blog” “a book about teaching music” a thirty-minute sermon on Matthew 6.” “a medium tempo song in the key of E”. Some of those may be difficult but, none are impossible. I love the challenge actually. When I used to paint, I would love self-imposing parameters. “Can I paint this using only 3 colors? One color? Only the middle 6 inches squared of the canvas?” It was great! But if you asked me to just write something.. Now.. Anything! Any length. About any topic. It doesn’t even have to be written. It can just be spoken-word, or a song. Anything! Just make something now! I would be stuck. What do I do? It’s a piano too big, And color palette too infinite. Can you imagine wanting to paint a tree, and when you look at your paint you see, every possible form of green in every possible shade to choose from. What would you do?
My idea of freedom is somewhat different from Webster’s. Rules give me freedom, as odd as that seems. It tells me what we are doing. Can you imagine trying to play football with no rules? Someone says we are going to play football, and the rules are… No Rules! How would you know to run, not run, catch, whether the end zone let you score, whether the ball even mattered or not? You wouldn’t. You might call it freedom. I think i’d call it hell.
What is freedom in my life? When do I feel the most free?
Freedom is my life. I have it all the time.
I am free.