Free

When was the last time you felt free?  Like truly free?  Nothing worrying you, no low-grade or high anxiety, no general discomfort, not a care in the world?  Yeah, me neither.

This guy here?  I think he might be the very definition of free.  (I have a great video of him looping and twisting and turning, but I am too cheap to spring for the upgrade on my blog host that would allow me to post videos. Truth.)

Regardless of elections, or Covid-19, or a stock market akin to a bucking bronco, as a general rule, most adults are never really in a position to feel unbridled freedom. And that’s a super drag.

Kids, however, are (supposed to be) all about being free. As a bird. Not a care in the world.  Those fortunate enough to have adults in their lives who love, protect, and teach them, have basically had the worry monsters peeled right off their backs.  Someone else is in charge.  Someone else is taking the hit so you are allowed to just be a kid. Free. As. A. Bird.  (Full disclosure: I had great parents.  The best, even.  But I was hardly what anyone would call free as a bird. But in those moments when I was, it was epic.)

Perhaps you have endless amounts of cash, perfect children, a hot spouse (or partner) that you adore every moment of every day, a gigantic trust fund, a job you love, your health, amazing friends who always have your back, or total self-love. Good for you. No, really, I mean it. However…I am willing to bet you don’t have them all.  Because nobody, not one single human on earth, has them all.  We all have something hindering our freedom.  Some more than others.

When I was in my 20s, I used to think, “If I made $10,000 more a year, I’d feel free.”

When I was In my 30’s, I used to think, “If my children are healthy and happy, I’ll feel free.”

When I was in my 40’s, I used to think, “If I had a better marriage, I’d feel free.”

In my 50’s, I am still worried about all of the above (minus the marriage part – gots me a good one now.  For the most part 😉 ) plus about 100,000 other things.  And, sadly, but honestly, I still don’t feel free.

A small sampling of some of the things getting in the way of my feeling like that guy up above::

My children. Their future seriously hangs in the balance.  The two youngest are “attending” school from their bedrooms, through a screen. Yeah, in the world of hybrid learning they go to school two mornings a week.  As in 8 a.m. til noon. And then they are done for the day. At noon. Kids are meant to be in school, or, at the very least, occupied for six hours per day.  It straight up sucks for everyone that the world is such that going to school is the exception rather than the rule.  The two oldest, one an independent and full-fledged adult and the other one on the cusp of it, are living in a world that they have worries that they should not.  Like: “Will I still have a job?” and “When can I get out of the house!”, and, perhaps the scariest: “Will I ever be able to live a normal, adult life – or at least enjoy some semblance of freedom?”

My nieces and nephews. Two of them were unable to have college graduation ceremonies. One of them was living abroad when the world shut down, and when she finally was able to go home, had to quarantine alone for two weeks. One is in college, but is she really?  All her classes are online, taken in her off-campus apartment. No hanging out on campus. Ostensibly – but not really -no parties or football games at which to get drunk and puke. Is that even college?  The others, all no-even-so-young adults, are in constant worry as to whether the companies they work for will be able to keep their (virtual) doors open. And they all, to a person, want to travel further than to Walmart to stock up on toilet paper, water, and hand sanitizer.

My mother.  She lives 3,000 miles away. By herself. In a pandemic. Of note: I have never, in my life, seen her sit still for more than moment increments. In fact, in all my adult years, a full ten-out-of-every-ten times I call her she has been at a museum or a theater or a gallery or at the beach or taking a walk or out to dinner or playing MahJong (which she learned at 80) or listening to a Ted Talk or taking photos or heading out to a class. Now, in the age of Covid, she picks up every time I call. She’s been a trooper, but it is hardly the way she usually rolls. (Aside: she is the most amazing octogenarian I’ve ever met.  I want to be her when I grow up.)

My in-laws. They live 3,000 feet away (not really, but nearby) and, like my mother, are no longer able to live their lives the way they used to…not because they are old and feeble.  To the contrary!  Serious travelers, lovers of theater, art and music, they are used to moving and grooving all over the world. They, instead, have been stuck staying local for what is going on a year.  (Along with my mother, they are a pretty outstanding septuagenarian/octogenarian pair. I wouldn’t mind being them, too, when I grow up.)

The economy. It’s up.  It’s down. Things are good.  Things are frighteningly bad.  Pick an hour, it’ll change.

The leadership of this country. It’s enough.  One guy won, the other didn’t.  Nothing to see here.  

The whacked climate.  Seriously, 75 degrees in November sounds good, but it is just strange. And, I am wise enough to know, something to be concerned, really concerned, about

The future.  I know, I know, worrying about the future is a long-held, tried-and-true tradition, but this feels different.  When I say future, I mean, um, an hour from now. Tomorrow. And the next day.  Who among us has the wherewithal to look further?  Or, is that just me?

Earlier this year, I adopted a new mantra. I even painted a rock with it.

Now, I am trying like hell to actually live it.  I know if I do, I will feel free, or freer, anyway. Never as free as the kiteboarder, or a baby (even little kids don’t feel free right now 😦 ), but freer. 

Hang in there, boys and girls. It’s going to (continue to) be a bumpy ride. Try kiteboarding, or letting that shit go…perhaps it will help.

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