Freedom is a glorious concept. Mel Gibson’s blue-woaded face wouldn’t have been nearly as impressive if he had been screaming ‘Oppression!’ while his guts were being slowly unraveled from his body. ‘Land of the chained and the home of the obedient’ isn’t a good slogan for any nation. And I liked Thomas More’s Utopia, I don’t care what all my professors at University of Chicago said about it. (They said mean things. They made Thomas More cry.)
The downside of freedom is, of course, that you have to figure out for yourself what you want to do with your time. In an oppressed society, someone tells you what to do. Get up at dawn, work in the fields, pay my taxes, hand over your wife. None of it fun, but hey, there’s a purpose to it. You know what’s expected of you. Same thing with a nine-to-five job. Get up, buy a latte, get that report done, pander to the boss. Nobody likes it, but nobody’s ever sitting there in the middle of the day wondering what they should do next. Nine-to-fivers know what they’re supposed to do next. They just don’t want to do it. And probably won’t, until their fifth reprimand from the voices on high. Since they discontinued that whole ‘serf’ thing.
I threw off my chains a while ago. I’ve been freelancing for years, free as the birdies, and just as aimless. I had a pretty lofty utopian dream of what my life would look like, if I were only free to do as I liked. No more wasted time on YouTube while my manager figured out that I’d completed that assignment a week ahead of schedule. No, I would use my time efficiently, finish my work in the mornings and spend my afternoons in museums and bookstores, increasing my knowledge and romantic nature with every precious art-ridden moment. Then, perhaps, I would refinish my cabinets. I would live in splendor, work swiftly and well, drown myself in art, and finish that novel. And bluebirds would appear every morning to drape a fresh crown of seasonal flowers about my head.
Here’s what actually goes down:
I wake up. Feeling a little sick. Have the sort of sore throat that makes me swallow constantly and try to pop my ears. But they never pop. No. Because there is not a just and kind god in the universe, not a one. Not even a pagan one of ears and sickliness.
Go back to sleep.
Wake up around eleven, having forgotten I was supposed to email a woman in California about a potential gig. Roll over, pull computer up on bed, attempt to connect to the series of tubes.
No Internet connection. Damn and blast.
Take shower. Make tea with some whiskey in it. If no one told you, ginger tea with honey, lemon, and whiskey is a delicious alternative to DayQuil, and accomplishes approximately the same thing. And if you think I’m an alcoholic for drinking at that hour of the morning, I remind you that some of us did not have Ritalin and Prozac and other FDA-approved drugs when we were children, and we must now make up for lost time by altering our experience of the world wherever possible, and for whatever excuse we deem fit.
Now there’s an Internet connection. I suspect this has something to do with my embracing alcohol before noon. If the gods of sickliness are not on my side, the gods of debauchery are ready to roll. I email the woman, find another email about a quick copyediting job.
I drive to the coffeeshop full of working professionals. Well. Maybe not. It’s a pretty day. I decide to take walk first.
Nice walk. I need to put more exciting things in my iPod. Stuff other people envy me for having. Some of this music I do have, courtesy of a good friend of mine who likes to gather it, but he always gives it to me in CD form, so all of my supercool music comes to me under the title of ‘Track 13’, which is impressive to exactly no one. For all they know, ‘Track 13’ could be Britney Spears, when in fact it is Goldfrapp.
Sit down to do the copyediting job. Get distracted by John Scalzi’s blog. Four hours pass. I eat a bagel for nourishment.
Do copyediting job. Takes a little longer than I would have thought.
Freedom is not for the weak. I think it’s good that we throw off our tyrants, but some of us could do with a benevolent monarch. A monarch who would issue inspiring, bold, unforgettable speeches from a high tower that impressed upon me the wisdom and virtue of good works and eschewing hours of time pondering the lolcats. When the monarch spake, I would immediately rush to do his bidding, because my many years of living under this rule would have assured me to trust him.
And then I’d find out that he was, in fact, responsible for some kind of Gate fiasco. And I would weep.