Saturday, September 24, 2005

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

I have most of the band family sleeping in my living room right now. Last night Lane asked an interesting question: Why aren't people our age satisfied with their work? Why are most of our friends going back to school, or still trying to figure out what to do with their lives? Most of you who read this know more about culture and philosophy than I do. Why DO we have this change in the way our generation views work? Our parents always seemed to be satisfied; even if they weren't, they did the same thing (usually at the same place) for all of their working lives. What does it say about us that we can't/won't?

Brian said that having access to the world (and, I'll add, to information) has changed the standard. For us, we want to be around people who think differently, who care about life outside of the aforementioned 3500-square-foot suburban homes and College Football. Maybe it's the influence of higher education, although I don't really believe that. I have friends who have not gone to college who have the same desire to think about new things, to DO something, and friends with college degrees who don't. I also think birth control and women's rights have dramatically affected the way people view work. Adolescence can stretch out as long as we'd like now that we have control over when we will accept responsibility. But none of those factors really encompass the issue. The bigger question is, why is College Football and a comfortable home enough for most people? Why can't it be enough for us? Why are some people stirred up by life, while others are content with status quo?

And into which category would you rather fall? There is beauty in searching for deeper meaning, but it's a frustrating and usually lonely way to approach life. There is comfort in status quo, but a sense that, like lemmings, we aren't seeing our circumstances for what they really are. Lane said last night the struggle is always between comfort and freedom. But some people don't even feel the tension; some people never realize they aren't free.

I don't think you get to decide your inclinations; either you're stirred up or you aren't. You can wrestle with pursuing comfort, buy a house and life insurance, but it will feel like a prison if what you want is freedom. Your gut (heart/spirit/soul ... whatever. I like "gut") won't let you sleep at night if you're ignoring the desire for deeper meaning. Likewise, you could travel around the world, be submersed into academia or genuine Christian community or the coolest urban life imagineable, and feel as though your life is careening out of control if you really just wanted to settle down with a nice house and beautiful children. I don't think you get to choose your gut reactions to life.

For me, what I do know is this: I am leery of comfort. I am motivated when Jesus says, "Wide is the path to destruction, and many will follow it," or the Psalmist says,"There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to destruction and death." I'll probably have the same squishy brown couch and standard plaid bedspread for the rest of my married life. I've moved so many times that the process itself is its own comfort, its own stability. My future children (poor kids) will have to learn the art of making new friends, and my mother may never admit that she understands why I do it ... But I can't help but be stirred up. I may never be comfortable. I'd rather be free.


Madame Rubies said...

This is good stuff, Steph. I am trying to decide where I fall, b/c some days I just want that comfortable status quo so badly and other days everything feels empty.

Liz said...

I definately think that I fall in the free category. I get too antsy when I am in one place too long. And I think that partly comes from my parents. We were always moving, always traveling. So it has become a part of who I am. I am Queen Packer (though not so good at the unpacking deal). I also think that a part of the freedom pull in my life comes from my calling to missions. I WANT to travel - see the world, meet new people, live in a mud hut in more than one country! I still want a family - a husband and lots of kids - but I want them on the field with me. Right here, right now, I think this is the most settled I will ever be. I have my little white house with the red door, two dogs and a garden. I spend my days off cleaning and baking - and while I enjoy this now - I am not comfortable in it. I know I am called to much more, beyond my red door (but hopefully with my puppy)

Martha said...

I remember another generation that wanted freedom so badly. We protested -- we rebelled against authority. We had riots and sit-ins and gradually won freedom to wear jeans to school. For once, guys could wear their hair as long as they liked and girls (not me; I was never had the shape for it) could wear braless halter tops. The same generation went to college, protesting war and fighting in it all the same. We kept searching for freedom and by the time we were parents, we wanted our own children to have a more stable environment, one not so shaky with too many choices, one where the boundaries were a little more watched. And so the hippies cut their hair and had children and raised them to be . . a little more respectable than their own parents. . . And while they were busy being parents, they realized that what they had been looking for . . was there all along.

Ciona said...

I haven't read his entire book, so that is my disclaimer as I quote Richard Florida. But several years ago he wrote a book called _The Rise of the Creative Class_. Basically, he's saying that we're increasingly shifting from a labor-driven society to a creative/knowledge-driven society. There are more scientists, engineers, artists, musicians, designers, etc. than ladder-climbing bureaucrats. Therefore, we creative-minded people desire a more "experiential life," more authenticity, "a passionate quest for experience" that the daily grind of work and committed jobs cannot provide. It makes sense--our generation wants authentic, experiential worship. We love coffee shops for their authentic, creative feel. We watch reality television (even if to just mock their lame attempts at our beloved authenticity). The number of freelance professionals are on the rise. We love blogging because we have the freedom to express ourselves, state our beliefs and be who we are unashamedly. We don't mind the critique that often attaches itself to creativity. We don't like it, but we don't mind it. Because we're free to ignore it since we're not bound to any one place or any one person's opinion--the world is at our feet, we can explore and move on. Or if we stay where we are, we're fine, too, b/c we explore ourselves. We have learned the art of self-reflection (thanks to Oprah and other pioneers of the self-help movements).

Could this be one reason why we are so free? And is this the prelude the the day when more people appreciate of poetry? Alright, alright . . . wishful hoping for this creative class.

So those are my thoughts based on some of what Florida thinks.