This is the first Saturday since I retired that it feels like I have gained a new freedom. Strictly speaking there was one previous Saturday but that was filled with the many post holiday tasks which come at this time of year and didn’t seem much different from any earlier weekends: long “to do” lists being addressed, sorting paperwork and the like. Last night I slept better than I have in months, I did my workout in the garage (lockdown new normal) and after a shower my thoughts started to turn to how I would spend the weekend – a rare luxury. As I have worked in teaching for 35 years I am more used to using weekends for marking, planning and catching up on what has been missed during the week. I know this reality continues for many of my colleagues and teachers everywhere who are busy trying to make next week more bearable. By comparison, I am embracing this new freedom. Freedom does not come without responsibility however.
- there are meals to be made for my household. A little creativity and I can express my love for them, or at least for those who live with me.
- later today I will take my 88 year old mum to her surgery for her covid vaccination. This will be her first time outside the house/car since she fractured her femur back in lockdown 1.
- there’s a small open badge passport tutorial to make for a project I am supporting.
I am in the fortunate position of being able to use my new found freedom to do things I value, things which I will enjoy and others hopefully benefit from. I start of course with the Saturday paper… and I discover others who have a very different take on freedom.
It seems many have used their personal freedoms over the Christmas period to help spread the new, more contagious variant of covid 19 to devastating effect.
Others in the UK have felt it necessary to trick people with their calls for freedom of speech. Learning directly from the Nazi playbook, they claim their freedom to say what they choose matters more than trampling on the freedom of others. These people are extremely dangerous, they look to destroy democratic freedoms which we in the west have taken too much for granted for too long and could (as we saw playout in the US Capitol building recently) be lost unless we defend them. They look to achieve their ends through media channels which cannot be trusted.
This takes me back to my student days when as an undergraduate I learned about the origins of existentialist thought and how it responded to thoughts around Nihilism. (this article needs more work on the definition so if this is your area of expertise, do it!) Positions taken on this philosophical approach to life – moral positions, political positions, personal “prise de conscience” such as Camus’ philosophy of the absurd – give us a chance to take a stand on solid ground and exercise our freedom whilst not infringing on the freedoms of others. Or we are free to use our freedom to bully, coerce and confirm the most dreadful truths of human existence – man’s inhumanity to man.
I am grateful for my freedom and the responsibility it entails.
If you have time – and if not I suggest making time – listen to this (assuming you have the freedom to do so), it is only available for a limited time sadly. This weekend sees some good David Bowie retrospectives as he was born and died in January. He claims in this recording that he only really found his voice and made sense of his work in the 1990s, he found talking about his work difficult as he says “it is all in the songs”. A great reason for me to spend the weekend listening to nothing else, even whilst I write this.
“Music has given me over 40 years of extraordinary experiences. I can’t say that life’s pains or more tragic episodes have been diminished because of it, but it’s allowed me so many moments of companionship when I’ve been lonely and a sublime means of communication when I’ve wanted to touch people. It’s been both my doorway of perception and the house that I live in. I only hope that it embraces you with the same lusty life force that is graciously offered me.
(In their own words: Bowie (Five Years on) 53 mins BBC Sounds.)