Monthly Archives: February 2014

Orbits and Oceans: The Free Life

Uncertainty begets a loneliness but the right kind, I suppose. Søren Kierkegaard said, “anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” All this comes with the territory of freelance work. I think day to day, the freelancer is closer to the reality of things. He must openly admit an element of uncertainty in all he does. The elegant instability. The fabric of the quantum universe. (Responsibility for one’s own taxes). Embedded in the laws of the universe is a certain unknowable quality one only encounters in tangent moments of fear or ecstasy, a roller coaster accessible only to the free.

The pilot of his own endeavors, a freelancer must overcome the vertigo of sudden changes in turbulence, correct course as a stable orbit tends to require, approaching waywardness. No larger corporate body will do this for him. Yes, the view from these pinnacles contains the secret of things, but maintaining orbit costs energy and requires a firm understanding of the laws of gravity.

This is no exaggeration. Most of my friends are all striving to be free in their own way, despite the particular requirements of their ambitions. When I ask my friends how they are doing, several jokingly cite a slow descent into madness, referencing side projects designed to keep them sane. This is a recurring motif in people I admire: the willingness to admit madness and confront it – to invite doubt to the table – to be, at least partially, freelance. Fighting for the survival of sanity itself. Just the right amount. Only through these things do we live, do we come to know ourselves, and glimpse the greater picture.

In the final sequence of The 400 Blows (Truffaut), a misunderstood boy who throughout the film has run away from school and from home, runs finally away from his childhood. The sequence tracks his escape from the delinquent center that imprisoned him, across the barren landscape and dilapidated structures, the fences, the trees. The boy runs away from the world. We find his destination is the shoreline, a place he has always wanted to see. With this, his escape gains the weight of liberation (the higher form of running, where one is no longer moving away but rather toward).

Yet upon arrival, he finds the ocean is but another boundary. His uninflected expression, frozen in optical zoom, is key. Born from this moment is not an emotional victory or defeat, but rather a broader uncertainty, the beginning of a new quest, the end of childlike understanding. The ocean is but a promise of liberation. Liberation, itself, is the struggle of all existence.

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