It is indeed the Fourth of July in these United States of America, and the word “freedom” is on my mind today. In fact, it’s been on my mind quite a bit lately, since I suddenly seem to have so much of it.

For anyone who doesn’t know by now, I am currently working on a master’s degree in counseling from Murray State University (Yes, that is the school where the dormitory blew up recently.). I am one semester away from finishing the program. I also work part-time for WKMS, Murray’s NPR radio station. Oh, and I have six children. Needless to say, my days (and sometimes nights) can get pretty busy.

For about the next month, however, I’ll have more than my fair share of free time. My work hours are 5 a.m.-9 a.m. My classes don’t start up again until August 15. While my wallet would gladly accept another part-time job at the moment, it’s pretty unlikely that someone would want to hire me for just a month of work, so I’ll be actually getting off work at about the time most folks go in.

That leaves me the rest of the day to do …. well, what?

It’s not as if I’m completely aimless right now. I could probably pick up a freelance writing job. My wife has already compiled a “honey do” list. My kids always seem to need transporting somewhere. And there’s always this blog I can work on. Even with all that on my plate, though, I still have a nagging fear that I’m going to run out of things to do.

I hate being bored, mainly because I find my depression and anxiety shoot through the roof when I am. I don’t want to get fat. I don’t want to disappoint my children. I don’t want other people – men, especially – to look at me as lazy. Most of all, though, I don’t want to lose my sense of purpose. When I just kind of wander around from activity to activity I lose my sense of who I am, and then I start to sense that downward spiral beginning.

What is the point of anything without purpose?

This is a questioned I’ve pondered quite a bit during my counseling courses. In a postmodern society where reality is defined as whatever you make it, how can a person regain their sense of purpose once it has been lost? Do they simply fashion it from nothing? Do they find it in a construct, such as religion? Or does it actually find them at some point in their wandering, the result of some kind of cycle of life we’re all a part of?

I liken my current situation to an open-world video game. For the record, I hate open-world games because of the lack of structure. I need to have an objective to work toward next, and when I’m presented with a world without story, where I can go anywhere and do anything I want, I find myself aimless and overwhelmed. When faced with endless possibilities, I find myself begging for a pattern or a story or anything that will bring me the comfort of knowing where I am going.

As a counseling intern this past semester, I was given a great deal of freedom during my sessions with clients, and I noticed this longing for structure within myself. I finally figured out it was a pattern I was searching for. When I play guitar, for instance, I don’t feel myself getting nervous or anxious because I know the patterns of the scales. Dealing with another human being is a different experience altogether. People, I discovered, like to buck conventions.

Even with this looming sense of dread, I still feel a confidence I will figure out what to do with myself eventually. There are simply too many things which need to be accomplished in life for me to waste away as a couch potato. I may feel aimless for the moment, but I will soon find myself swept up by the whirlwind I have come to know so well.

So let freedom ring.

 

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