2.exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3. the power to determine action without restraint.
What is behind the idea of ‘free at last’? It conveys two ideas; that of no longer being constrained and the concept of finally or eventually. Both are apposite. Both imply that sense of having waited and longed for something that has now come about. I am thrilled and excited at the prospect of new adventures and a new way of life, with the leisure and time (DV) to enjoy them.
At some stage within the next two years, I shall stop working. In doing so, I shall free myself of the constraints of having a job. I shall hang up my ties and suits. No longer will I experience the excitement of Friday leading into the weekend; neither will I experience the tensions as Sunday slips away inexorably introducing the prospect of another Monday. No longer will I be constrained by the requirements of a business and of others’ demands on my time and energy. Days will be my own to be filled with those activities I chose and enjoy.
Since July of this year (2011), I have been freed of the constraints, however pleasant, of being married. I have always imagined myself married and have been so for most of the past 37 years. But I have not been as successful as a husband as I would have wished. I have married three times and three times my wife has left me. I do not wish to pretend that it was all their fault; it wasn’t. But where ever responsibility lies, I am finally free to be alone. I very much enjoy my own company and love the freedom that it gives me to create a new life.
To the extent that one is ever free, or wishes to be free, from his family, my children have grown and are independent. Some now have children of their own. They are all a source of great joy and I love being with them. But they no longer require me to be here; to live near and to provide support as used to be the case. We will see plenty of each other both in this country and in others. My flexibility means that I can be near when required and far when not.
At present, I am constrained by needing to live within reach of where I work. In this, I am like all of you. But this constraint will last only a short while longer. I do not need to live in a house; indeed I long not to be doing so. I have no desire to be established in a local community; to know and be known. I am happy with the company of those I meet along the way; to know them for a season and then to move on. Through this medium I will share myself with those who are interested. Through the day I will be content with a friendly word, a few shared moments as we pass by.
Thirty years ago, I had to decide whether to settle in Canada or continue serving in the Army. Continuing to serve had great attractions but meant that, inevitably, I would eventually have to live in England. This was a prospect that I did not relish. I was born and brought up in Kenya and had always loved England but from afar. My preference would have been to continue to have a long distance relationship with a country that I now both like and dislike, probably in equal measure. I admire much about England and Englishness, but I also greatly dislike the country and society that it has become. Part of that may be the sense of dislocation that comes with years as familiar things are replaced. A large part of it is that I never wanted to live here in the first place. I had no choice. Following a major heart attack in South Africa in 1961, the security offered to my father by a health service that was highly rated from the perspective of Kenya, proved too attractive. We all ‘returned home’. Nothing could have prepared us for the reality of the England we found. It was not home to my mother, brother, sister or grandparents. For most of us, it never became home. But it is where we lived. Now I am free to leave.
So, as the old spiritual has it, ‘thank God, I am free at last.