The Fear Of Freedom

A Wayside in the Woods

A Wayside in the Woods

TILLAMOOK STATE FOREST, OR—The mind loves a good plan. Plans soothe and settle our fears. But plans, when followed, restrict our freedom.

As I write this, I find myself sitting next to the Wilson River in the beautiful Tillamook state forest. The woods are lush and green and florishing with new life and a small waterfall next to the van creates a soothing and natural white noise. The air is cool and clean and fresh and smells wonderful. According to my most recent planI shouldn’t even be here.

And yet I do find myself here—here in this unexpected and beautiful place. There is no way—with what I knew an hour ago, let alone last week—that I could have planned this.

The original plan was to head up the coast to Astoria, and then follow the Columbia River east and north up to Canada. But this morning, while sitting in a coffee shop in Tillamook and putting the finishing touches on some code, I realized I’d seen enough of coastal Oregon for awhile, so what should I do? Should I follow the original plan because of stubbornness or ego or mind? Or should I let go of all that mental crap and just wander wherever I’m drawn?

When you have a home and a 9-5 job and kids and a dog and a cat, you need to do some serious planning to manage your free time. You’ve got a lot of stuff and a lot of commitments and a limited window of opportunity.

When you live in a typical RV or travel trailer, your restrictions are far less but you still (nearly always) need to plan your next destination—either a campground or a known camper-friendly area. You’ve got a lot less stuff than the typical homeowner, but still enough stuff and a big enough rig that you can’t just camp anywhere.

But when you live in a van, you don’t have to plan squat. If you can drive there, you can camp there.

As appealing as freedom is to the heart, the mind doesn’t like it. Freedom means the unknown and the unknown it too scary for the mind. Minds like plans and security and facts.

Many people say they want freedom—many people say they want enlightenment—but the simple fact is, our mind doesn’t want us to be free, it doesn’t want us to be enlightened. Our mind wants us to be safe and secure. It wants to know what’s going on. In the case of the ego, the mind clings to the story of “you” and wants a happy ending. The mind wants the known. It wants a plan. It wants to control things and the only way it can control things is if it can plan for a predictable future.

Freedom—whether physical or spiritual—simply doesn’t work that way. Freedom doesn’t work with a plan because freedom doesn’t work in the future.

Freedom only works in the Present, and the Present isn’t something you can plan—it’s not something you can control. The Present is vague and mysterious right up until the very moment it happens. It isn’t something solid. It isn’t something you can know ahead of time.

There is a medieval tome of wisdom and spiritual freedom that is NOT called The Rock of Certainty.

No. Freedom—spiritual or otherwise—is neither solid nor certain.

That beautiful ancient tome is titled, The Cloud of Unknowing.

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9 thoughts on “The Fear Of Freedom

  1. On my six month jaunt across country I liked not knowing where I was going to be on any given day. The only thing I knew when I set out was that I would eventually wind up on the west coast. While I loved that my kids flew out to see me, it meant giving up my “freedom” to meet them and go places, together. I liked wandering. I probably would have made a good hobo. 😉

  2. after all how could a person plan , there is no such thing as time, no yesterday, no tomorrow, my what freedom. did i hear you say canada! i live in saskatchewan, near regina, not considered one of the most scenic parts of canada but we do live along the beautiful Qu’appelle valley. so if you are ever up this way do stop in. I’ll fill your fuel tank for you. we are actually heading out to kelowna british columbia next friday for two weeks or so, but then we will be around home for the summer. i have driven the columbia river and that is a beautiful dive!

  3. Hi Wayne, welcome to my neighborhood (i’m in Astoria). So i read from your post you might have had enough of the WET! Coast of Oregon…BUT…if you find yourself near Nehalem bay again do a google search or on your GPS for “Cook Creek Road”. There are 17 dispersed campgrounds on that logging road that are set in a very peaceful area next to the river. Your rig will make it just fine, my wife and i were up there three weeks ago in our AWD Chevy Van conversion. ( i have a write up of our trip and a picture of the FS Map of the area here _ link … )

  4. I like your posts and your blog. I’m interested in your enlightenment. The frog master is very cool.
    How do you pay for it all?
    You take very pro looking photos. Is that it?
    Don’t mean to sound cynical when your posts are so free sounding.
    Anyway, I am also a practitioner. I sit like a frog as much as is possible. When I am not a frog I am an echo. Only once I’ve seen through different eyes and they aren’t even there.

  5. Well articulated. I was lucky when I was a student to have a very loose structure to my life, with no real pressures other than the odd exam. After a while hitching around, I drove and then flew around and about – not quite aimlessly, but certainly in a spirit of serendipity, and learned a lot from adventures great and small. (The young man was wide-eyed and naive, I might say innocent, without being ‘pure’). The main thing I discovered however was I didn’t like ‘lotus-eating’. Hedonism (pleasures of the senses) pall. There had to be some sense of direction, purpose and/or ‘achievement’. That’s the problem with ‘freedom’ – and people die of it. So, what to ‘achieve’ ? Turns out it can be totally arbitrary as ultimately nothing has any intrinsic meaning, but the most satisfying moments are ”when a plan comes together’, and as you say, more subtly, when Her plan materialises in ‘reality’ (often with a dose of weirdness, synchronicity, surprise and irony !)

  6. Thanks so much Wayne for your post!! My thoughts for the last few days/months have been “Should I stay or should I go?” considering the place I have been for 8 months already!! the longest in a few years in one spot. It is comfortable, “safe and secure” to an extent, all needs are met BUT I feel my beloved freedom is somewhat imprisoned in the mind that obsesses with planning and wanting to know where next???? This place were given to me 4 days in advance at a point of frustration for not hearing wisdom’s directions for the next step…when I said: “f..udge it. I am going to stand at the ticket counter at the bus station across the border and buy a ticket to wherever destination feels right at that moment” and whala! a series of information came via e-mails and here I am!Now, I am in the same spot of wandering where next and the guidance does not show up…yet…but the change is I am somewhat learning to love this unknown state of mind and surrendering more and more…and i know the serendipity will arrive…for this gypsy nomad of 10 years…one more time.
    Love to you and your path of nomadism…the forest you are in looks fabulous…breathe in the pure air and thanks so much for sharing it all with us.

  7. Beautiful wayne 🙂

    Youve made me see why there has been a sense of frustration lingering in life.Maybe some conditioning can have a massage after reading what you wrote.

    To freedom, love and light. Yahwah bless amen.

  8. @All: Thanks for your comments. I’m currently camped in a no-coverage zone and only sought a signal to call the Old Man for Father’s day, so it was a nice surprise to see all these messages!

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