Friday, December 21, 2007

I Miss Writing Sidebars

I see by some of my posts, like the pigeon-racing ones, that I miss searching out quirky fun facts to feature as sidebars in my geography books. I always gathered way more wacky material than fit in the final book.
Joe G. once suggested that I should one day write an autobiography called Unused Sidebars.

I also sometimes miss knowing what I'm supposed to be researching and writing about, even though I chose to give that up to find out what I WANT to be researching and writing about.

I am not sure where this blog is going, and that's OK. I don't know where I am going either, now that I have stepped out of the security of writing on assignment.

I'm once again engaged in that old struggle between security and freedom.

Security is so comforting, so efficient. You have the illusion, anyway, of thinking you know where you are and where you're going.

Freedom is so cumbersome and inefficient and sometimes scary. And it's a lot of work, waking up every morning not knowing quite where you are.

I can see why sometimes populations welcome a strong hand imposing order on a floundering political scene, the way many Chileans welcomed the military rule of Pinochet at first, after the social disarray and economic disaster of Allende's presidency.
But without checks-and-balances in place, security can easily turn into a dictatorship that smothers freedom.

(I was heartened to see that Venezualans just voted against Hugo Chavez's attempts to eliminate even more checks-and-balances from his presidential powers--in this case, removing term limits, so he could run for reeelection indefinitely.
He's done good stuff, but when he shut down a public television station, looked to me like he'd started down that road toward absolute power. [From the How to Be a Dictator Rule Book: Step #1: Control the media.]
Kudos to Chavez for accepting the vote of the people limiting his power.)

Anyway, in my own life, I've chosen the inconvenience of freedom, for now.
I want to use this sabbatical--this freedom--to reclaim the emotional and intellectual autonomy of writing whatever I want, even if that is just gathering sidebar material off the web (for my future autobiography).
I remind myself of that when I freak out and want to get a safe, secure job.

The cool thing about freedom is the same thing that makes it uncomfortable:
you never know what's going to happen next.

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