C L A R K  S O R L E Y

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AUTONOMY                                  

Ahead of everything else the pursuit of autonomy has played a big part in my life. It might be one of the few areas where I have been partly successful as, compared to most others, I do enjoy freedom from the endless obligations that are so much the stuff of ordinary toil. The term 'free spirit' is appropriate. In my more romantic notions about myself I like to think that is what I am. My autonomy has been dearly bought though and has required sacrifice.


Relationships are all important though for all kinds of reasons. I like to bond with others and on the whole have benefited from that. I'm not sure how much that has been reciprocated as when engaging people my need for autonomy means I can be at times cautious and calculating. This is the darker aspect of the desire for freedom as the bonding process is by definition a restriction of freedom. When it happens I am wary and always keep an exit door open.


So how would I resolve that conflict between connecting and disconnecting? One solution might be to bond with people who are, in their way, less likely to impose upon autonomy. That may be too tall an order and barely possible. More likely is to find others where the bonds have an intrinsic compatibility such that there is no sense of freedom restriction. It may still be there but not be felt as problematic or impeding on the things I do. And after all what is freedom if it's not about doing what you want to do.


I suppose that’s the rub. I've never found long-term compatibility. Most of the people I've known, their interests are ultimately divergent to mine. Many of my creative friends for example have been largely talented conventionals whose relationship with music and the arts is recreational. Their jobs and families are their lives, their play-time is music. There is a basic incompatibility there. As for the women I've known, their central focus has been an exclusive relationship paving the way to family life and parenthood and all the associated, necessary conventions that follow from that. In terms of freedom their agenda was always going to be a serious limitation.


Maybe all this is just too hard, too unlikely and ambitious to seek such liberties while still craving connection. Maybe it is too specific and renders me too much a precision instrument. If so, it is unfortunate because I have gone too far down this line consistently for too long for a radical change back to normality to be feasible. A change might be done with such reluctance and regret, with such a feeling of defeat, that the resultant negativity would render that change not at all beneficial. Better to maintain the course in the forlorn hope that deliverance finally delivers.

I like to think myself a free spirit