On Freedom

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

- From "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Firstly, to Mrs. Decair, I am sorry I did not believe you about the value of poetry in 9th grade.  Thank you.

Over the last few years I have devoted a lot of thought to the idea of freedom.  What is freedom and how can I have it?  And for a time I came to a decision.

Freedom was having options, the lack of constraints.  This made sense at the time.  Obligations and a job that did not agree with me made my time feel used up by things I cared nothing for.  Freedom seemed to be the lack of those things. The ability to have time.

It took a few years and many failed attempts at projects and businesses to realize what I had done.  I was like the person in the above poem, only as the poem goes on they choose the road less traveled.  I chose no road.  I sat where the paths diverged. Happy that I had options.

At any point I could go down either road, and that was freedom.  But it was shallow.  I found that my dream was to be in a room with a desk and my computer and other tools doing nothing.  Add to that that it is hard to have friends when you are not moving towards something.

What kind of dream is that?  My dream was not good relationships or cool projects, it was a maximum of potential energy.  Fellow travelers (friends) only exist to those that are moving.

Then I discovered what I now believe to be freedom.

Making a choice without coercion and sticking with it.  Freedom is constraints.

That sounds counterintuitive, but the mor I walk down this road the more it seems to be true.  For one I am actually moving again, not sitting at the crossroads.  I have shipped more in the last year and a half, both personally and professionally than I did in the couple of years I felt freedom was options.  I have things I can be proud of and personal growth I can point to, where the past was a time of stagnation.

But ultimately constraints and decisions provide direction and clarity.  Before my issue was not with constraints, but with the ones I had chosen.  I was giving up what I cared about for what I did not.  Good constraints force you to give up what is not important for what matters.

I am not sure I chose the road less traveled, but I chose a road.

And that has made all the difference.