Freedom vs. stability

I recently reread The Glass Castle because it’s just so damn good. In it, Jeannette Walls talks about how her mom doesn’t want to trade her freedom for stability as most adults end up doing. For the past week, I have been thinking about that. About freedom and stability and whether they are both mutually exclusive. Perhaps they are.

I used to be a free spirit – a suburban gypsy of sorts. If I didn’t like my job, I found a new one. I rented an apartment as to not be tied down. I never leased a car because I didn’t want the commitment. Boyfriends that made me claustrophobic were quickly left. When Steve first did my taxes, he asked how many more W-2s he had to wait on.

And then, slowly but surely, my freedom shrunk as my stability grew. I got married, I bought a house, we leased a car, we had a child. In my interview for the job I have now, they asked me if I plan to stay in Omaha for long time. I paused, then truthfully said I’d love to move, but I have a husband and a son and a house. Getting up and moving isn’t quite as easy. My freedom is gone. My stability is an anchor.

I guess responsible adults are stable, for the most part. We know there will be food on the table and a paycheck coming in because of our commitment to our responsibilities. We are not completely free, but we receive a different type of freedom in our commitments. We don’t only do what we want to do. We do what we have to do. That is my struggle. I’ve always been a believer in personal freedom. It’s sad for me to realize how much of it I have sacrificed. But then again, stability has its perks.

Most people want security in this world, not liberty. ~ H.L. Mencken

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