Tag Archives: master

Free Safety

Freedom and safety often seem to be opposites except for the fact that the key to both is discipline.

NOTE: This blog series investigates twelve attributes I see as conducive to recovery from PTSD and other past stress. We have looked at ten and leave one more for August. July is devoted to Discipline.

A Sandhill Crane wandered into our yard in the north woods this week and we watched it for an hour. It is not unusual to see them in the area, but we have never known one to walk into our camp, so it was a treat. I admire this creature’s freedom.

It moved slowly about, scratching and probing the ground for food. A little research revealed that they are opportunity eaters, feeding on plant and animal materials that are available. Our grounds seemed to offer ample fare to keep it occupied for so long; but there was no hurry. It sometimes paused for minutes, near motionless, perhaps attending to some shape or sound. Occasionally it stretched, flexed, groomed, and fluffed its feathers.

Alone in a forest glade with no demands on time, nowhere to go, no time to be there, and no tasks to complete. I love such freedom.

Could I wander alone, eating by opportunity and surviving by instinct and skill? I think I can.

Wilderness survival for humans requires skill. We will not live well on the food that feeds the crane. Our bodies have different requirements and vulnerabilities. We lack the protection of feathers or fur. We lack the sensory acuity of sight and sound, the physical prowess of fleet and flight, the instinct of eons of evolution. We have evolved to live by wit and skill, which is another way of saying discipline.

Yes, the Sandhill has discipline of watchfulness that offers safety, and that safety offers the freedom to roam, alone. Still, even cranes group together for dangerous activities such as migration. Like humans, they are social animals.

Society offers safety at the apparent expense of freedom. Peer pressure, cultural tradition, and laws provide a way to live in balance of freedom and safety–if we would have it.

The Green Bay Packers used a recent first round draft pick for a Free Safety, a position of apparent contradiction on the field. He provides some safety as a last resort while exercising the freedom of choice. Ah, but freedom of choice is an obligation that requires great discipline. He has rules. He reads the actions of the opposing offensive players and reacts, not instinctively, but by a doctrine of the playbook. If he fails to read correctly or his discipline breaks down, well, the other team scores.

If the crane’s discipline breaks down, well, it dies–and some coyote lives.

I love to wander in the woods. Sometimes I get a little lost. I might get really lost someday, but that is alright.

For many people, wandering alone in the great north woods would be foolish freedom. Indeed, most people do not have the freedom to wander in the woods as I do because, for them, it is unsafe. For me, it is an invigorating risk because I have studied and trained in wilderness survival. I know the discipline. I have studied the playbook. I can build shelter, find safe water, make fire, and gather food. Most importantly, I am comfortable in the woods so that I am unafraid. That discipline of basic survival attitude and skill provides both relative safety and freedom to enjoy.

Discipline is following rules. That is all. Basically, it means student as a disciple, one who follows.

Do you have a way of life? A playbook?

Discipline is not my strength, but I do work at it. For me, the most important freedom each day is the ability to choose my playbook, my way, my Master. Discipline is making that choice.

Deep down inside you, can you find tracks of the Master of your playbook?

Happy Tracking!

Re Quest: Everybody’s Choice

In all of human existence, there is only one choice necessary.

That’s the good news.

The perceived tyranny of freedom—the necessity to constantly make decisions that affect my life, the lives of family and friends, and the lives of strangers around the world consequent to my ballot box choices—is less paradox and more illusion. When I feel overwhelmed with the burden of deciding if, how, and when to publish, I need only go back to that one choice and I am, again, free. Not choosing is not an option, it is a choice. I must choose. How can I be free of that burden without being a slave?

I cannot. I am a slave except for one major fact. I have the freedom to choose my master.

“I am the Captain of my soul,” ( William Ernest Henley, “Invivtus”). Okay, who’s the Admiral (or, General)?

Hopefully, many of you disagree with me right about now. Good. I do not want to be your master or general. I hope you will choose for yourself.

Do you ever wonder why so many people are cranky in this land of freedom? Why are people angry? I don’t mean what they say about why they are angry, I mean the real underlying cause of the anger.

We are afraid. More than anything else, I am afraid of being wro…, wro…, not right. I am afraid of being responsible for my choices. I am afraid of being ridiculed and ashamed. There is a way out.

I wait for somebody else to make the choice, and then I ridicule him or her. I manipulate situations so that others must choose. I don’t run for office. I blame those who do. I don’t make laws. I blame those who do. I don’t judge—wait. I don’t accept the responsibility for legally judging, I blame those who do. It’s not my fault, really. I’m scared.

I do not need to be scared. I can simply adopt a set of rules for making decisions. Then, I don’t have to decide for myself. I simply follow. I can join a gang, political movement, military unit, church….

Okay, by now most of you have to be in disagreement. Very good.

The more complete the set of rules adopted, the fewer decisions I have to make. I don’t have to think anymore, and I don’t have to be responsible. I know which hat to wear, how to place it on my head, and when (for whom) to remove it. I may even know what my haircut should look like. Oh…should I have earrings? I better check the rules.

If you are still reading this, I’m guessing you can see a flicker of truth. Rules are comforting. Anthropologists call it culture.

How do we react to other cultures? I better check the rules. False religion. Human rights violations. Indecent grooming or attire. Inferior genes. Ugly language. My affinity for conformity to avoid ridicule and shame drives me to ridicule and shame those who choose to adopt a different set of rules. Desperate otherness.

If you choose to be your own master, you are responsible for all the consequences. If you think that is easy, watch the political debates. Where are the individualists? They can’t get elected.

There is only one choice required in Earthly human existence: Choose your master. You cannot have two, only one. All other choices are mere extensions of that one choice.

If there is bad news, it is that this choice must be made over and over, constantly, moment by moment. The other good news is this: If any person makes a personal commitment to a master, that master facilitates all the subsequent choices.

For those of you who have seen me (or really looked at a picture) recently, have you ever wondered why I wear two different colored earrings? Biblical slaves who chose to stay with their masters after being set free branded themselves with earrings to identify the masters they chose to serve.

No, I do not have two masters. The left is my reminder of the source of power for my choices. The right is my reminder of how to use that power in service to others.

Who is your master?