lately i have been reading (mostly at work) and talking (mostly when drunk) about such things as freedom and individual liberty. about how the government should not meddle with our lives and how the law should be based only on the non-aggression principle. and such shit. its fun read, and fun think. but the bottom line is, even if you understand all this and have a solution that will end all the world's problems, you need to be in a position of power to implement it. which you and me, by definition, are not (i write inconsequential blogs and you read them :P).
so what do we have power over? obviously we can have power over our own lives, our ambitions, our relations. the operative verb being _can_ here. yes of course we can take control of all those things, but do we really? and if not, why the hell not??
one answer lies, unfortunately, with our near and dear ones.
our lives, if not disturbed by deep thinking, are a study in dependence. we begin as an infant dependant on mom, then as a kid we stick to both our parents. adolescence comes with heavy reliance on friends and peer groups. as we mature we shift our emotional weights onto our spouse and then, when all is said and done, we look at our kids to ferry us off to the end.
what does this have to do with having power over your own life? power and dependence are in some sense, antonyms. the more things you are dependent on, the less power you have left. so the obvious thing would be to reduce your dependence on your relations, especially the close ones. well this is hard enough and even if you manage it somehow, its just the first step. (if you think all the fun in life comes from clinging to the ones you love, this will seem absurd/stupid to you. read no further :) also, there is tremendous difference between breaking a relationship and breaking your dependence on it. i am talking about the later, and hoping you know the difference.
the next step is a simple question of ethics. you want to do something but your loved ones don't want you to do it. what do you do?
there are some who, without a blink, say 'i do it', some answer 'i won't do it' just as fast and then there are the ones who, think. what follows is for the third kind.
imagine you are a regular joe (i don't need to imagine, i am :P). good job, wife, parents, school friends, college chums, office buddies, the works. throw in a nice little hobby while you are at it (hmm, photography seems to be in flavour). nice and boring.
you, like most around you, are happy with your life, but sometimes have that strange feeling of missing something which will make your life complete. after years of sliding that feeling under the carpet, you finally come out of the slumber and decide to do something passionate and interesting. say, you decide to travel the world, like this guy. you plan well, like you always do :) you decide to work hard and make sufficient financial arrangements for your family before you leave.
obviously, nobody is happy with all this, except you. parents, they tell you that they are just worried about your own safety and that's why they don't want you to go. they suggest a nice relaxing 7 day vacation to Kerala instead. wife says she will support you always but subtly hints at dropping this madness for everyone's sake. she blames it on your not so fulfilling job and suggests looking for a better one. friends tell you stories about how they too once dreamed of doing such things. their solution to the problem is to get some more responsibilities, that sure as hell kills such stupid thoughts.
now back to our question on ethics. is it right to do something you like, even if it makes everyone you like, unhappy? it seems like a trick question, but it is not. the heartless cold-blooded but right answer to this question is, yes. but people will call you insensitive and ungrateful if you do it, and praise you for your sacrifice if you don't. but no one will realize that the problem was not that you were trying to experiment with your life, it was that others couldn't let go of you and your secure relationship with them.
if you don't expect anything from others, you don't need to heed others expectations. it is as simple and as difficult as that. but if you achieve it, that is true freedom.
but i guess we don't really want to be free. we just want things to go our way, always.
and yes, there is a difference between the two.