Posted by: bwoof | February 10, 2010

Freedom (Feb 9 catch-up)

(Delayed entry…got watching LOST and lost track of time!)

When working with teens you begin to realize that they are right smack dab in the middle of an important growth time…moving from childhood to adulthood. 

For some of them it’s symbolized by statements like, “No one can tell me what to do. I can make my own decisions.”

Or in actions that look like total disregard for rules or good sense. Insubordination or disrespect to self, staff, and students is a common sign.

Or in a quest for giddy total freedom they don’t attend class or do any learning. It’s as if the freedom (their own timetable)  is almost too much.

Well, a couple years later and for some of them it catches up. I recently met such a young man who, after a few months of hitting the temp agencies and finding out that having to be at work at 4:30 a.m. to wait in a line to maybe get a really ugly job slopping grunge out of an old factory dumpster (or other equally un-fun activities) is not freedom at all, decided to come back and finish high school. It’s looking a lot more attractive to have a schedule, get some credits, and even have a warm place to hang out.

I didn’t know how the temp agencies work, but learned a lot from this student.

All of that reminded me of a fav passage from The Plague Dogs by Richard Adams, and I learned again that what we ‘want’ isn’t necessarily what we really want.

Freedom-that consuming goal above doubt or criticism, desired as moths desire the candle or emigrants the distant continent waiting to parch them in its deserts or drive them to madness in its bitter winters!And, Freedom, was I free?

Freedom, that land where rogues, at every corner, cozen with lies and promises the plucky sheep who judged it time to sack the shepherd!

Unfurl your banner, Freedom, and call upon me with cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music to fall down and worship you, and I will do so upon the instant, for who would wish to be cast into the fiery furnace of his neighbour’s contempt?

 I will come to you as the male spider to the female, as the explorer to the upper reaches of the great river upon which he knows he will die before ever he wins through to the estuary.

 How should I dare refuse your beckoning, queen whose discarded lovers vanish by night, princess whose unsuccessful suitors die at sunset?

 Would to God we had never encountered you, goddess of thrombosis, insomnia, asthma, duodenal and migraine!

 For we are free-free to suffer every anguish of deliberation, of decisions which must be made upon suspect information and half-knowledge, every anguish of hindsight and regret, of failure, shame and responsibility for all that we have brought upon ourselves and others: free to struggle, to starve, to demand from all one last, supreme effort to reach where we long to be and, once there, to conclude that it is not, after all, the right place.

 For a great price obtained I this freedom, to wish to God I had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when I sat by the fleshpots and ate bread to the full. The tyrant wasn’t such a bad old bugger, and even his arbitrary rages never killed as many as died in yesterday’s glorious battle for liberty. Will you return to him, then?

 Ah no, sweet Freedom, I will slave for you until I have forgotten the love that once consumed my being, until I am grown old and bitter and can no longer see the wood for the starved, dirty trees. Then I will curse you and die; and will you then concede that I may be accounted your loyal follower and a true creature of the earth?




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