Thought — 2 Min Read

Freedom Is Lonely

by Case Greenfield, December 15th, 2022

Thought — 2 Min Read

Freedom Is Lonely

by Case Greenfield

December 15th, 2022

I don’t know about you, but I feel that in our modern society there is a lot of emptiness. Many people feel deserted. Existentially alone.

Everybody will recognize the feeling. The quest for freedom. Finally, nobody who tells you what to do. And enough money, resources to do whatever you want. Freedom! Total freedom!

Far from everybody in the world is in this luxury position. I know. But I am convinced most dream of it. Freedom. Be your own boss in your life. Most people would, if only they could.

I have such freedom. At least artistically. Nobody tells me what to paint, what to create. I am my own boss. Nobody tells me what to do in life.

But still …

I am in a somber mood.

Maybe, we pushed liberation of the individual too far.

No more existential threats, no survival efforts.

No need for religion. No need for support.

Instant gratification. I am God now.

No more good and bad. I decide what is good or bad.

No more norms and values.

No cadre.

Just freedom.

Freedom.

Freedom.

When I was 16, I had written FREEDOM in capitals on the wall of my bedroom. Made sense, then. And I created it. I left home. And now, I am 61. And now, I know, freedom is not everything.

Because …

(While writing, I have  ‘From Now On’ by Supertramp on the background. … “Living in a fantasy …”)

With freedom, ultimate freedom, comes loneliness.

With freedom comes emptiness.

Our brain just wasn’t wired for ultimate individual freedom. We’re a social animal. We are wired socially.

Wow.

We are not wired for freedom!

Freedom is lonely.

Wow. I said it.

Made me think of this story. I heard it some years ago. Don’t know whether all details are correct, but it could have been true. A French man challenged himself to live alone on a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean for a year. Long story short: it wasn’t the survival hardship and hunger that he struggled with most. It was loneliness. One day he caught a wild boar piglet. To eat it. But he decided not to kill it, but to keep it as a pet for companionship. To fight his loneliness.

So …

The circle is round.

We’re back to square one.

Now what … ?

The cozy rabbit hole … ?

Yes, the cozy rabbit hole.

So what for my art?

Art for art’s sake? First, I thought I will make are for art’s sake. Some day history will recognise ‘the brilliance’ of my art, if any. But making art for art’s sake  – which in practice means making art for yourself, in total freedom – is lonely. Too lonely. It confronts me with my own human nature, my social nature. I need an audience. I need people to at least like the things I do. A muse, maybe. The ultimate form of this appreciation, or even admiration, would be someone buying my art … at a reasonable price. Not in the first place for the money – making art is expensive – but as a sign of recognition.

Hmm … so, I am human after all.

Artist. Philosopher. Human.

Other people have opinions. By themselves. About my art. But I need them. So. I’m not free to make art the way I want to. Not free. No freedom. Restricted freedom? No. Freedom by restriction, by limitation, boundedness. Or maybe even, freedom from restriction … Another circle rounded?

Note.

Just to make sure to prevent even the slightest bit of confusion. This story is BY NO MEANS WHATEVER a cause or excuse to take away even the slightest bit of freedom from anybody. And it is not at all even a grain of support for autocratic regimes or restrictive politics. Whatever I stated above about reducing personal freedom is and should always be an individual’s responsibility and a personal choice!

The point that I am making above is that a degree of reduction in personal freedom – in the sense of “I have nothing to do with any other human being, I have no limiting conditions towards anyone else” – is a always personal choice, based on the insight that a little more dependence on each other also brings the warm feeling of belonging, what I always call “warm grounding”. Stated differently: standing closer to each other might just make us happier human beings!

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