Freedom: What is it exactly? Freedom is elusive and hard to define, but I know it when I feel it. In my youth during summer vacation, my friends and I would leave the house immediately after breakfast to go play and not return until the street lights turned on. We got into our share of mischief and engaged in some risky activities, but managed to survive relatively unscathed. I appreciate that my parents allowed me that freedom to explore my surrounding environment and learn from trial and error. After graduating from high school, I circumnavigated the Continental United States in a 1969 Ford Galaxy 500, camping under the stars every night, and experienced nearly a year of total freedom. There have also been numerous occasions since then, while climbing mountains, when I experienced at least long weekends of freedom. The memory of the places I visited and the strange people I met are still cherished to this day.
Over the last few years there has been a lot of talk about our eroding freedom as Americans. An internet search for the definition of freedom returns descriptions such as: “exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.,” “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action,” and “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint,” to list a few. Based on these responses, I would have to agree we are not as free as we use to be; whether it is due to the necessities inherent with responsibility, the coercion and restraints of government regulations, or the external controls imposed by big business. I think it is fair to say that a genuine feeling of freedom eludes most of us today.
That is why I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all the folks, especially the Western Exterminator, formerly Pratt Pest team and my family for allowing me to seek out and discover some freedom this past summer. I departed Anacortes on a sailboat in May, traveled slowly north to Alaska and returned in August. During the duration of the trip I did not watch television, read any newspapers, or listen to talking heads on the radio. I did not review a single Profit/Loss Statement, Production Report or Sales Spreadsheet. I did not drive a car, wait in a line, or get put on hold. I did not attend a meeting, schedule an appointment, or make a single business decision. I managed to turn on, tune in, and drop out, a state of being described by the late counter culture icon Timothy Leary as such:
“Turn on” meant go within, to activate your neural and genetic equipment. Become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them.
“Tune in” meant interact harmoniously with the world around you – externalize, materialize, express your new internal perspectives.
“Drop out” suggested an active, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments, as well as self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change.
I slept when I was tired, ate when I was hungry and sailed when the wind was blowing. I spent weeks alone enjoying the solitude and wonders of nature. It was perhaps the most stress free and peaceful three months of my life. The trip was an experience I will forever cherish that I could not have achieved without the support of co-workers, friends, and family. So once again, thank you all for the precious gift of freedom.