Flickr, via Jim Linwood
My friend S’s hit a rough patch. On our way home from the city today, we talked a little about it. Then, she asked me a startling question:
“Which would you rather have,” she asked, “personal freedom, or financial freedom?”
I asked her what she meant by that.
“I have financial freedom,” she said, “and you have a certain degree of personal freedom. You can go and do what you like during the day when your folks aren’t around to interfere.”
“I guess I do,” I said, staring out into the highway abyss.
S has financial freedom, but work eats up her time. She’s on call throughout. I don’t have those constraints. I can tell work to fuck off. And often, I do.
But I don’t have any money. I am always at my parents’ beck and call. They can trash me, my things, denigrate me in public, and use me as a whipping post. They interrupt me constantly. On weekends and the days that I are home, I feel so miserable I can’t think. I have to beg for permission to do anything.
Often, my privileges are taken away on a whim. I am subject to an insane level of scrutiny because I live at home. I earn enough to have small bursts of spending money, but not enough even to afford a small room to myself, and that is how I fund my daily activities. Anything beyond that, I can’t help myself.
So what kind of life do I prefer? Uncertainty but day-to-day contentment? Or security and general dissatisfaction?
I often thought to myself that I’d trade the small bursts of free happiness for a life of security. Now, I’m just not sure what I want. I have no idea how to answer that question.
However, it’s made me think a lot about my daily activities and how I live my life. I know I’m unusual. I fill my time with people that I like and do things I want, but I have very little material freedom.