THE FREE SPIRIT
Once a free spirit stubbed its toe. Had it been moving too fast, the free spirit wondered as it hopped about in pain? At the speed of thought, mishaps were probably bound to occur. Still, until this moment, a stubbed toe hadn’t seemed even a remote possibility. Crashing full tilt into some barrier—now the free spirit could have understood that. Or being vaporized by the force and heat of its own zeal. Do nothing half-heartedly, it had always believed, nor trim your independent nature one bit. After all, could you grind along in low gear and still call yourself a “free spirit”? How? Like some self-proclaimed “survivalist” in slippered comfort dozing over outdoor catalogs by a gas log behind glass? Or the honored professor who extols the liberating world of the mind but thinks some ideas are just too risky to discuss? Or the creative voice at a deafening howl, driven only to scandalize all listeners within range? Was that the life of a free spirit? No, these claims to freedom all had the fetor of shuttered minds. The sun needed letting into them, and the wind too. Clear the air and dry away the mold! That done, you could speak of being ready to begin, just begin, living the life of a free spirit. Once loosed from tethered thought and senses, you might pick up enough speed to escape the bounds of the known and be among the first to enter new worlds! But then to have stubbed a toe? To be pulled up short and shown the limits of inspired flight—what greater mishap could befall one? Suppose the toe was broken. Hobbling about in a cast would hardly do. A free spirit on crutches, what could be more ludicrous? How long would it have to make do, in that case, with limping over ground once covered in a flash? Tripped up by every small root and rock while trying to recoup the liberating passion for leaping the stars! Now suffering the pinch of a narrower lot, the free spirit felt a grudging sympathy for those who found true independence a difficult affair and settled instead for something less. Might life as a semi-free spirit be worth a try, judging by how many appeared to draw strength from merely chanting the mantra of liberty and hearing the sound roll around inside their own heads for as long as it took to get ready for the routines of their day? You could get by on lowered expectations, the free spirit supposed. And besides, who would know? Stubbed toes were as common as colds in a land full of wannabe “free spirits,” so your occasional stumble might well go unnoticed amid all the bluff self-assurance and swagger. There was comfort in numbers, to be sure. The comfort of knowing that “freedom” as most understood it wasn’t really all that difficult to fake, once you’d learned how.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans