Freedom can be a beautiful thing. Like all beautiful things, ugly lurks just beyond the first glimpse. I was just remembering the first time I had gone away to college. It was the first time I had been away from the stern patterns and paths set before me in stone by my parents. There was no question in those days about what was and wasnt acceptable. There were no grey areas on "acceptable behavior" or "expectations" concerning life, the future and daily habit.
I remember shaving for the first time. It was an odd sensation from the vantage of having watched my father do it many times, realizing that soon, I too, would be old. I remember my mother teaching me how to iron and do laundry. It was when I did my first load/ironing, that I too would be independent -- the man and the woman of my household metaphoricly speaking. All these realizations are great and probably necessary. But shortly after/before all these — there's a bump in the night; there's something else that becomes horrifyingly obvious!
I am alone! I can DECIDE to NOT go to class. I don't have to do anything I don't want to. I can stay up past midnight. I can sleep in during the week. I am the boss of me now! That startling freedom so easily becomes the jailer. Not to mention, there are truck loads of people urging you along "their" directions..."live free," "be yourself," "be like me," "who cares," etc. It doesn't take long for new habits to replace old forced ones. The fight for self ensues. It would seem that everything before now would become a casualty of war.
Soon the reflection in the mirror would speak first and I would be answering to it. I remember the confusion and wonder of identity vs new identity. I remember the struggle of trying to get all my new monsters back into the little box when going home for the summer or on occassion I would get a visit. Oh how smooth one could make the surface look for just a few brief moments. Suffication, one might describe it as...but soon all this "judgement" would be gone and we/I could be my new me again. They wouldnt understand...besides that was then; this is now. The mind always finds a way to justify "less...;" less commitment, less belief, less responsibility, less fault.
It was years later that I discovered that the old me was the real and stronger me. I was already myself. The things I had learned growing up were the real truths about the world and the people in it...including myself. College seemed a vacation of social education moreso than books; besides, my thind grade teacher had put me way ahead on the lessons of the future. I am reminded of an Indigo Girls lyric from the song Jonas and Ezekial that goes:
"...when i was young
my people taught me well
give back what you take
or you'll go to hell
it's not the devil's land you know
it's not that kind
every devil i meet becomes a friend of mine
every devil i meet is an angel in disguise
jonas and ezekial hear me now
steady now don't come out
i'm not ready for the dead to show its face
whose turn is it anyway?...." more...
I said all that to say this: Some of the old folks were right. Good does win over evil. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be a good person. Work hard. Be honest. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Keep your word; people won't forget that. Some things are better than gold.
I found this line in a great blog:
"We often become dependent on what are free to do.
Therefore we become un-free.
Don't we always think that in the absence of authority, we can be free; but isnt the opposite really true.