Yes, I know. That’s not how the lyric goes.
I have my reasons for flipping it on its head. In the original song, “Me and Bobby McGee”, the emphasis is looking at someone who seems free and realizing they’ve lost the only thing that really mattered to them. The focus is on the shallowness of the freedom because of the loss.
I want to focus on the freedom aspect.
In years past, I’ve often given the upcoming year a ‘title’ with a goal toward making it so–the year of living Without Fear, or the year of living in Love. Like most New Year’s resolutions, it means well, starts out strong, and then peters out as time, energy, and enthusiasm wane.
I can skip ahead to that part now. I’m already looking at 2017 with an empty tank of gas. I feel as though I’ve already sacrificed and given up so much over the years. I think a lot of us can identify with this. We’ve pinched, scraped, and done without for so long there is no further room to tighten our belts. Many of us are starving: emotionally, financially, spiritually, even physically. Yes, you can be starving and fat–Cheez Doodles are cheap, after all.
Looking ahead, I don’t think things are going to get better. I think they are going to get much, much worse. It dawned on me the other day, I don’t really have to worry any longer about all the things that used to terrify me. Will I have enough money to take care of me in my old age? To pay for health insurance? To rebuild the crappy little house as it continues to fall apart?
No. I don’t really think we’re going to be around long enough for these things to matter.
Things that used to gnaw at my fears like rats worrying bones have ceased to have the same importance. Will the next book release be successful? Am I just wasting my time writing? Should I give it up?
Laughable concerns in the face of our potential future. A future where our own government is dismantling democracy piece by piece and replacing it with something truly horrifying.
But in an odd way, this realization has been very liberating for me. It’s a little like a hypochondriac being cured of his phobia by developing a life-threatening disease. Once you’ve experienced the real thing, all those previous silly fears just fade away. I’ll freely admit, I’m a chronic worrier. Now that I’m staring down the barrel at the loss of everything I believe in, something inside just clicked. I’m like Sarah in Labyrinth when she finally realizes the Goblin King no longer has any power over her.
Yes, the future ahead is uncertain at best and terrifying at worst. I suspect many, many people have no idea how horrible it can be. We’re worried about losing rights, and I think it will be much worse that that. Aleppo worse.
But there are so many other, smaller things I can stop worrying about. Things that no longer have any power over me. And the funny thing about freedom is that once you get a taste of it, you’re no longer willing to walk in chains.
I think the Goblin King and his minions about to take office are going to find us a hard nut to crack.