I’m not sure where this quote came from. I can’t remember if it’s mine or if I need to attribute it to someone else. It’s been a battle cry for quite sometime…
The origin of this quote was in relation to working in a recording studio one time that was a bare bones facility. It was devoid of all the fancy “gear du jour” that makes for a great website or magazine cover material.
With no choice other than to simply plug in a microphone and hit “record”, we found ourselves at the time making a project with a wholly original sound. We moved quickly through the process too, unencumbered by endless “tweaking” of the sound that is usually offered by an abundance of choices when it comes to gear. We also eliminated the technical problems that inevitably arise when you have racks and racks of studio equipment.
The minimalist approach sparked new creativity as well, since we did not have our usual “arsenal” of gear. I am guilty of having my “default” or “go to” items when I record a drum set or an electric guitar. Absent the “crutch” of my favorite equipment, creativity flowed as I was free to use a mic I would never consider using on a snare drum, for instance. It was the only mic I had available.
I did not see the absence of choice as limiting in any way. Quite the opposite, I embraced the freedom it provided. At some point along the way either myself or someone else (please let me know if you are that someone) exclaimed “the absence of choice offers remarkable freedom…”
I have meditated on this quote ever since, and I use it often in various life situations. It can be applied across many instances and in many situations.
The world today is paralyzed by choice, which has somehow become affiliated with success by way of “having it all”. Go on Amazon and search for something – a book, a part for your car, or a can of ground cloves for your spice rack. The choices are so many you often don’t know where to begin. Google for vacation ideas in Santa Fe, NM. You’ll be 28 pages in after an hour of searching, and you’ll still have no idea where to stay or where to eat lunch your first day there. Choices are everywhere and that often leaves us perplexed, anxious, confused, or even paralyzed.
Many times choices are too numerous and we can’t eliminate the contenders or whittle down our alternatives. I like to look at things as either an enthusiastic yes, or a hard no. When faced with choices, if I can’t rate something a 9 or 10 in terms of its value, need, efficiency, or context then it is usually a hard no for me. I try not to waste time on “middle ground”. Forced compromises by way of too many options and choices will most likely end in disappointment or a “meh” experience. A Man on the Move ain’t got time for that. I say “no” a lot…
Sometimes the absence of choice comes by way of things you can’t change. I love Maya Angelou’s perspective: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” When faced with a situation you don’t care for but cannot change, there is no point complaining, procrastinating, or throwing a pity party. Focus on the task at hand and find freedom as you conquer what’s in front of you. If you want to move forward, you really have no choice.
Choice can also be tied to your values or life philosophy. My wife and I do not use debt. We live on a frugal budget that by necessity eliminates many choices right off the bat. We can’t afford trips to Cabo or the 2019 Tahoe XLS with the satellite navigation package, and we sure as hell aren’t going to finance them. This leads to remarkable freedom in our decision making. Not only do we enjoy a freedom unencumbered by debt, but we also enjoy a freedom of not having to consider a vast array of choices and options on a daily basis. Choice is limited by way of our values and lifestyle.
Are You Free?
It happens all the time. I’ll see an old friend I haven’t seen in a while and ask “how’s it going?” The answer invariably is “busy man, been really-really busy…” People wear the busy moniker like it’s a badge of success. Busy, however, comes with little freedom. Busy is saying yes to everything, never turning down a gig, stretching yourself thin in an effort to try to capitalize on every opportunity. It means doing things you probably don’t really enjoy, but justifying them with a paycheck – or by the mere fact you have things to do to keep you busy. I’ve been there, and been guilty of just that. No mas.
My answer to the same “how’s it going?” question these days has been “we are simplifying – doing less, buying less, and enjoying more. It’s really giving us a lot of freedom.” It makes for some odd looks…
I’ve tried to simplify every single aspect of my life. Throughout 2018 that was my goal – to simplify, simplify, simplify. Today 2019 brings a goal of efficiency. Simplified down to the bare basics, now I am working to make sure everything left in my life runs at maximum efficiency. Purposefully removing choice and striving to embrace freedom is a big part of that.
I will continue with minimalism & essentialism over abundance & magnitude. Efficiency replaces “busy”. Simplicity replaces complicated choices and decisions. Very specific goals replace vague or complicated plans. Action replaces procrastination. Work is toward an end goal of freedom – personal and financial freedom to exist independent of the social-economic-political spectrum of America today. The Man on the Move is carving his own path. Freedom tastes good…