I have always wanted to be independent. Since I could talk, I have been telling anyone and everyone that I can do it for myself. I have largely seen all of you as a means to an end and transactional. I need something you have, and I need to get it so I can be on my way. Keeping in mind, I have no idea where I am going, but fuck if I am not going there in a hurry!
Independence defined - freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.
Now, looking back at my behavior, I can clearly see that everything I have ever done, said, or attempted has been in service to being controlled, influenced, supported, and aided. I just called that particular pursuit something else - I called the service to the cause, freedom.
Well just because you call something a name, doesn’t make it so. I can call the fireworks tonight, fireworks, but they are really gunpowder exploded in air. They may be pretty, they may be fun, but at the end of the day, they are explosives. And if you really think about it...it is kind of crazy.
Every year we gather together to celebrate our independence from England and the Crown. Every fucking year. We have been “independent” since 1776. But July 4, 1776, was only when we declared our independence...what actually happened on July 4, 1776 was all 13 of the American colonies, severed their political connections to England. But we did this by creating an alliance with France. And without France’s assistance, we likely never would have won the war against Great Britain.
It wasn’t until the 1783 Treaty of Paris that we were officially recognized as a sovereign and independent nation. So apparently, independence takes some time, some blood shed, and creating dependencies with other nations before we were able to really stand on our own. And even then, how independent were we really? We gained our “freedom” by cutting deals and making side hustles with other people, thereby giving up freedom in the truest sense of the word.
For me I have chased freedom a great deal. I pick it every time. And until now, I have always picked it with the accompanying delusion that this time I will be free from control, influence, support and aid. But what I see now is that I do not believe it is possible for any of us to live this way, ever because of the last two words of the definition - we all need support and aid. And so long as that is the case, we are always going to be subject to control and influence, it cannot be otherwise.
So for me, any attempt at freedom/independence comes with an automatic tether because I do not believe that I can ever live solely on my own, needing nothing from anyone, ever. It is a seductive fucking delusion, but it is, in the final analysis, a flight from reality every single time...
Perhaps autonomy is a better word than freedom because I do not believe any of us can be truly, completely independent. We need each other. It is in our nature and make up. Sentient beings need other sentient beings.
So perhaps autonomy (an individual's capacity for self-determination or self-governance) is a better ideal than freedom and independence. Freedom (the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint) isn’t absolutely possible. There is always going to be something or someone who will exercise a higher authority over your right to act or speak or think as you want to. There will never be cohesion and agreement about that. Each person comes up with their own moral code, their own ideas and beliefs and then attempts to live their lives in accordance with those. But as each of us develops and lives under that regime, we are in constant conflict with others who are doing exactly the same thing we are.
There will never be a time or place or manner in which we can have perfect freedom or independence. But we will always have capacity for self determination and self-governance. That is something we can work with and on - our own capacity.
And I think that is where I have gone astray so very often - seeking the promise of the seductive illusions of freedom and independence...when perhaps what would have made more sense, and perhaps provided more solutions, was if I worked on my capacity for self governance and determination.
And perhaps that is what we are really celebrating today...our autonomy. Each of us, our own. We are not all free and we are certainly not independent. We depend on people we have never met, will never meet every time we turn on the light switch, at every single meal, and pretty much in every interaction in our lives.
For me, I am going to let those ideals of freedom and independence just marinate a little, move them over to the side and instead today celebrate that we as a nation, a long time ago, fought hard and long to gain autonomy to work on our individual and collective abilities to self govern and determine.
Freedom is, perhaps, just another word for nothing left to lose...but autonomy, perhaps that allows us to hold ourselves accountable to something much more powerful, something worth holding onto.