Perspectives from Four Months in: the Dark Side of Freedom

   “I’m in the dark here.  You understand?  I’m in the dark!”  – Lt Col Frank Slade –

dark tree in the cityPredictably, after a period of euphoria, a dip occurs to maintain balance in the universe.  So it has been for my stint outside the traditional workforce.  What do I have to show for my four months: a few half-finished songs… a blog post?

The music is “flowing like mud around here”, as Frank Slade from Scent of a Woman might say.  Even when working a desk 60 hours a week I was producing music at that pace – and I wrote a book.  I slept and saw friends just as little.  What have I gained from my decision to part with money and security?  And so the darker side of freedom has turned its head.


Freedom has a way of bringing out our demons – the habits and inclinations that prevent us from fully capitalizing on our fleeting time here.  They are always there, but a full-time job cuts down on the amount of time we have to dwell on them.

As Damian Thompson discusses in The Fix, availability is a prerequisite for destructive behavior.  Soldiers addicted to heroin in Vietnam had no problem kicking the habit once availability was restricted upon returning home.  In the case of our demons, the key availability is time, and the only way to restrict that is by going back to work – which we mustn’t do!

Demons can take many forms, and I have battled others in years past.  This year it has been food.  Strange that someone who looks like this has a problem with food, right?  But it’s true.  Ever since I embarked on this new life everything tastes incredibly good – a bowl of Japanese rice with butter, a handful of traditionally soaked nuts, a simple fried egg – I could eat all day long.  I eat until I am full, and then I eat more because my mouth wants to continue tasting these exquisite things.  And though I could stand to gain a few pounds, eating and food preparation ultimately takes me away from the reason I am home – to make music, to write, to create.

My main defense against this mini food addiction has been fasting – I eat only after I reach a production milestone.  If I finish a cut of a video, or a verse of a song, I can indulge in the sweetness of a meal.  This focuses the mind and forces me to produce, just as hunger forced the hunter of old out of the hut and into the jungle.  So far, though there remains much more in the mind than on the page, this is working for me.  But demons rarely leave for good – and I await the inevitable next incarnation of mine.


There is a learning curve to doing anything new.  In my transition I am still learning to: feed myself, make my own schedule, cut discretionary spending to a minimum, ride a fixie, self-publish a book, and operate all the creative picks and shovels needed to shape my ideas into end products – Pro Tools, Joomla, Scrivener, Adobe Premiere.  Learning is an integral part of a blue belt life, but at the beginning it often feels like nothing is happening.

When nothing happens, doubts arise – doubt that I made the right decision to leave, that I can handle the open-ended freedom, that I can attain a level of income stability necessary to support a family.

Yoga is an ally in facing doubt.  It teaches us not to rush progress, but to take it one day at a time.  Progress happens as we develop good habits and stick to them consistently.  If I can devote a portion of every day to getting the music out, over time I believe I will achieve a blue belt life.


So what have I gained in giving up the green?  An opportunity – that’s all – an opportunity to have a full life, of my choosing.  Beset by demons and shrouded in doubt, I move forward with a belief that the current path is the right one.

As ever, the support of friends and family allows me to continue on this path and drives any success I experience.  Your input, feedback, and words of encouragement keep me from dwelling on the dark side of freedom.