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I have enormous amounts of personal liberty


personal • 22.09.13


Because I have no financial security, because my work is ignored, because I have no partnerships worthy of the name, because I have no people around me who are on the same page, who care about the same things, because of stuff like that I am compromised and less able to value what I might otherwise celebrate.

Yet with a more positive mindset I could spin the story differently. I could stress that I have enormous amounts of liberty; that my obligations are minimal; that outside of working hours I spend much time absorbed in literature, music and film, indulging my own curated tastes. I might also remember that I am lucky to be here at a time when technology affords easy access to culture on an unprecedented scale; that for a music-maker and music-lover like me computers and the Internet have been an enormous liberation.

That is to say that altogether I have a privileged existence and enjoy a degree of autonomy that would’ve been impossible historically. Hitherto, humans were forcibly huddled for reasons of survival. From small bands to bigger tribes to nuclear families in today’s nations states, people have always stuck with their kith and kin. To be separated from the pack meant certain demise. In such a world private life was a luxury if it was possible at all. These days most have their own space, even if just a bedroom, where they can take respite from the pressures and demands made by others. Increasingly some choose to have more than just a room alone but to live alone thus allowing a degree of domestic privacy almost unimaginable only a few decades ago.

I might be a good example of this kind of autonomy. As well as opting for lone-wolf status on the domestic front - a positive choice I would only reluctantly give up - I have been able to work in a career field of my own choosing in a medium I love (recorded music). To have done so is in itself an honour. That I have ended up unsuccessful within the field is unfortunate but that I was able to do it at all and survive is something to be valued. The majority don’t achieve that or even bother trying.

So when it comes to these highly advanced aspects of modern humanity, to freedom, independence and individuality, when it comes to leading an authentic life in line with dispositions, I score high. I’d go as far as to say I’m ahead of the curve in this respect. Perhaps in time, as social trends evolve, self-chosen lifestyles will become more commonplace and people will live in ways better suited to their natures. They might pursue careers more in accordance with character and native aptitude. They might have options befitting of their natural talents and potentials. They might use their imaginations when making a life plan or in how they conduct partnerships both personally and professionally. Doing this they will have departed from centuries of tradition where individuals were forced into like-it-or-lump-it customs, where they had little choice than be square pegs stuffed into round holes.

This is wishful speculation of course. It is just as likely that humanity will continue to follow the dictated course and the way of true individuality will remain the constituency of the outlier, the artist, the entrepreneur, the visionary, the risk-taker. And yet, if you are for freedom of the individual, if you think it is to be more than just rhetoric, then the progressive society would be one that tried to match positions with potentials, one that was able to create vocations from latent abilities, and do so to the max. There may be limitations on just how possible that is but there is no question some improvement can be made on how things are currently. I may have lived my life as free a man as was feasible in the circumstance but it has been costly and achieved only by always working against the grain and wilfully avoiding the staunch conformity of peers. I wish it hadn’t been quite so hard.