Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Save your freedom for a rainy day

"Save your freedom for a rainy day," someone had written on the bathroom wall... It remained there at eye level above the washbasin all summer. No retorts or cross-outs. Just this blank command as you angled and turned your hands under the faucet. - Rachel Kushner, THE FLAMETHROWERS.

Freedom is a tricky one. It's generally owned by your routine and your obligations. Freedom sits doing shots with your commitments and your bills, seeing who blacks out first. It may be that we are the most free at those nondescript times, like washing our hands in the bathroom of a bar, where our next decision doesn't carry the weight of the big ones.

For the past three and a half years, I've worked on a contract as a writer for the Coast Guard. The job in and of itself meant a commute to Washington, D.C., from Maryland's Eastern Shore, a trek I never thought I would make. It was a better job, a better opportunity than the previous eight-ish years working at a museum. The past three-plus years writing for the Coast Guard have been eye-opening, learning, defining. I've been up at 5 a.m. each morning researching and compiling an early morning report that went out before most people are at work.

This morning that contract is over. I still woke up at 4:30 a.m. (I'm a morning person), and wasn't sure what to do. So I started reading Rachel Kushner's "The Flamethrowers," which came as a Father's Day reading recommendation. It's already drawing tightening circles around art and freedom and the things I like to put my head around.

I'm not sure what contract or other opportunity is coming next. There's a freedom there, a reflection point that maybe asks what I want it to be, but also feels like we generally limit our choices before we really consider them.

We've been meandering about Maine this week, a geographic change from Maryland, and our girls first visit here, as a backdrop to mull things over, in odd moments, sipping a Long Trail Ale, looking at what happens when God employs a different palette, Bob Ross-style, painting mountains and rocky coasts and lobster boats, where we are used to seeing corn fields, cattails, and workboats chasing blue crabs.

It's not lost on me that our girls sat atop Cadillac Mountain yesterday in Acadia National Park, a decided and welcome experience and shift in perspective, as I wonder what will fill my work life next.


Rain said...

Acadia national park is one of my favorites...what a great place to mull things over!
Hope you find your next destination and it's just as eye opening as the last!

Michael Valliant said...

Thanks, Rain! Acadia is fantastic. Can't wait to go back and explore more. And yes, to the next destination, or journey, or both :)