Monday, February 17, 2014

enslaved by design

Kate Endle original
Our kids have been hooked on the Dr. Dobson AM radio magic that is Adventures in Odyssey, with the older two asking each time we're in the car during late afternoon if "those stories" are coming on the radio and if we have sufficient time to listen. I often rely on audiobooks in the car, since the sedative effect seems to linger even after a half-dozen renditions of the same chapters. Audiobooks get expensive! So, I'm happy to have the backup entertainment. Being a massive radio devotee anyway, this has been a nice diversion for the past few months. I often take the long way to our engagements for the sake of not cutting out the story's climax, just as habit dictates with my own worthy FM companions. Sometimes that makes us late.

Last week, the kids' show was preceded by this guy. And he was good. Personable without being phony, light and engaging without being predictable. He used this quotation rather unceremoniously: "He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the seas." I looked around online and saw it variously fleshed out (some added "...all the rest must stick close to the shore", which adds another element altogether; how does my refusal to submit to authority actually limit me?) but attributed to no one. I'd love to learn the source if anyone reading is familiar with it.

It took root in my psyche, and I've thought about it quite a bit since. It's a great question ~ presuming physical freedom, just who or what are we enslaved by? My reflexive mental response is juvenile: "a compass, ick!" Do I live as if each moment is ruled by the pursuit of virtue? No, not naturally. I sometimes have to pose this very direct question to myself over the most mundane tasks or choices: Will this help me grow in virtue? The answer is usually immediately clear, thank you God. Self-will run riot is no way to live, as a certain Ohioan once penned.

I do know that plotting a rough course and keeping to it pays dividends. The kind of dividends I long to reap, in all honesty. I try to align my inspiration with real goals, and merging the two comes only from focused effort. (ICK!) Once plainly enslaved by my passions, I guess it's safe to say that adulthood has allowed me to transfer my servitude into much more polite masters. (triple iiiick...)

The imagery of Davis' borrowed quote is clear enough in my own life without getting too fanciful: I don't like to be led around by GPS  --- I prefer to scribble directions onto looseleaf, stuff it into my organizer, and set off cloaked in mystery and overconfidence. And it works for me --- although more than once I've commandeered skateboarding children for their phones, to plea for aid from my husband, or Google map (that's a verb now, right?) some elusive destination. Not always efficient.

My happiest travel moments, barring none, have involved being geographically lost. ...Wondering what's around the corner, adapting to the unexpected, embracing novelty and feeling very free. I won't even try to be circumspect and proclaim it an illusion of freedom. Again, not the most efficient way to handle everyday life. (Although, I once missed a gymnastics exhibition with Big Names because I couldn't find Seattle's Key Arena. On foot. From my apartment on Third Avenue. Almost 20 years later and I'm still a little sad about that. I was pretty drunk + missing a contact lens, so I guess I wouldn't have seen or remembered the whole shebang too well anyway! Thank you for buying the tickets from afar and being kind about all of it, Dad.)

Plus, family produces so many moving parts that one can't exactly swing along various continents tripping the light fantastic and wrest any degree of satisfaction from this life.

I guess this is my way of saying I'm going back to the wiles of FlyLady, even if she did somehow give my laptop a terrible virus with that Cozi nonsense. Jen Fulwiler is hosting this upcoming link party. I'll use her prompt to shower you with my navel-gazing catharsis about how mopping the floor daily and being meticulously punctual sanctifies my otherwise grubby desires. There's a teaser for ya.

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