The Paralysis of Freedom

Freedom is the ideal state of humanity. Or is it. Freedom is the state of being unconstrained. We all have a degree of freedom in our daily lives. We have commitments and responsibilities which funnel our conscious activities, but there is leisure time.

I travel full-time by choice while I work from my laptop. It requires a great deal of discipline to put in a full work-week when surrounded by a new environment with sites to explore. After literally years of living like this I have learned to manage my time very well, to compartmentalize work time and fun time, and to strike a balance that is not only productive, but sustainable.

New friends often ask me how I chose where to go next. Like many of my strategies it depends on where I find myself. When traveling through Latin America, I typically chose the very next country by-land, and stayed the duration of my visa (typically 3 months). I’d learn from guide books and other travelers what places are best to see. Typically I’d stay in one city for 6-8 weeks in a furnished apartment. This affords a more homey living arrangement, gives me privacy, and allows for focus on work. I can also cook, which I love. Then I live more transiently the rest of the time. When I want to travel beyond just the next boarder the decision process becomes more complex.

While I Los Angeles I planned an extended vacation. I new I wanted to studied Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country. But where? There are more than 20 countries that speak the language. Mexico was the closest choice and Spain was the obvious choice. I had visited Central America a few times and enjoyed it. Blogs showcase Guatamala as a low-cost cultural choice, and Panama as a low-cost choice with great natural wonders. I had a good friend in South America in Ecuador. The freedom choose was great. I loved it, but was frustrated at the same time. So I wanted to visit a new contentment so that started the list. Eventually with 6 cities in mind I literally stabbed my finger on a map and chose Buenos Aires, Argentina because it was most close to the coast. I spent 4 months in country and loved it.

Years later I came to the end of my Spanish studies and Spanish-world travel. I had visited 18 Spanish-speaking countries – many for 3 months each. I studied the language sporadically, probably for 6 or 7 months in total. While I had never worked in the language, I was very strong in my skills. I knew I wanted another language to help frame my travels. I loved building on my Spanish skill and learning new accents. In some ways each country was totally new for me; I needed 5-10 days just to be able to hear anything the locals said. I thought of resuming my French studies from high-school and college. I had a good base and could get a 90 day French visa. Paris was expensive, actually the whole country was expensive in comparison to Latin America. Italian? I looked at Venice, Rome, and Florence. I loved these cities upon short visits, but would I like them for an extended period where I was really living there; working, taking classes, and meeting locals? Sometimes I get my mind behind a location for weeks at a time. I plan extensively, do research on what to see and do, and google for hotels and hostels, or spend days looking through apartments.  But I didn’t choose Italy (not yet), ultimately, I decided to study Portuguese in Brazil. I chose Rio De Janeiro. While Rio is the 2nd most expensive city (to Sao Paolo), still it appeared to have a lot to offer, great beaches, and I found a great school. Studying Portuguese is FAR more expensive than studying Spanish. Brazil is one of the most expensive Latin countries and perhaps because the language is less-studied, the schools are more scarce and charge more. Group language classes are 15-25 USD per hour (In Rio) instead of 5-7 USD per hour (In Buenos Aires for example). Years later, after multiple visits, I have spent 12 months in Brazil and really love it.

So you can see that choosing the next travel location is paralyzing.

Don’t get me wrong, its a great problem to have. I’m lucky to have a life full of such freedom.


I originally entitled the article “The Paralysis of Liberty”. However I’ve learned that liberty connotes being unrestrained under a political system and freedom is being unrestrained in a general sense. My thoughts are most relevant to the latter. I’m curious about how we each deal with the freedom we have in our lives.

Independence & Freedom

Another semantic discussion; much as been written about the differences between independence and freedom. Independence is the separation an individual has from control, influence, help, and support from others.

Independence is freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

Freedom is the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.

The thesaurus lists freedom and independence as synonyms for each other as well as this explanation:

Both freedom and independence refer to an absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers. Freedom emphasizes the opportunity given for the exercise of one’s rights, powers, desires, or the like: freedom of speech or conscience; freedom of movement. Independence implies not only lack of restrictions but also the ability to stand alone, unsustained by anything else: Independence of thought promotes invention and discovery.

With independence, one of the obstacles and one of the hindrances is that independence is a moving away-from. You do not become independent-to, you are independent-from. Independence is the action of moving away from some aspect of your reality. Generally, what you think of that you are moving away from is some type of obstacle or some type of restriction ― but independence is a restriction. For one of the largest restrictions that is expressed in independence is that it discourages interconnection and it discourages receiving. For, why shall you receive? You can do yourself. Why shall you be interconnected? You can be yourself. You can accomplish yourself. There is no binding or holding upon you if you are independent ― but is there?