Freedom Like a Shopping Cart

Song by NOFX - Lyrics

I thought I'd continue where I left off in my last blog post with another philosophical post. In this post, I'll be tackling the topic of "freedom" and what it means to me.

To the right I have a Youtube song embedded which is thematically related to this post. The song is Freedom Like a Shopping Cart by NOFX.

I've been listening to the song for the last 12 years, but the song never really meant anything to me until the last couple years when I started thinking more about it.

There's a specific line from the song that stuck in my head over the last couple of years, specifically the second half of this verse:

A Christian, an anarchist slash prostitute. Figures out the true meaning of freedom. Not freedom like America. Freedom like a shopping cart.

In America, it feels like when the word freedom is used, it's more of a political word than a personal word. I.e. people are free to vote, free to work at this job or that job, free to own property etc.

To me, freedom is more like a shopping cart in an empty parking lot. It's the lack of obstruction. It's doing what I want, when I want and how I want to do it.

Freedom Like a Shopping Cart

Freedom Is A Lane All To Yourself

I frequently think of the topic on my drive home on Highway 41. I swear, 80% of drivers occupy the passing lane as opposed to the travel lane. Why is this? It's because they don't like being obstructed by other drivers. The irony of this is, if all of the drivers are in the same lane, they're all obstructing one another leaving the right lane wide open and free.

I'll frequently go out of my way to secure my own lane, even if it means I have to drive slower than other people. To me, it's freedom. It's being able to pick my own speed. It's looking forward and backwards without any other drivers obstructing me.

I15, South of Salt Lake City

This analogy ties right back to life. I feel like everyone around me is in the fast lane trying to rush through life. Trying to check off all the stereotypical things a person is suppose to do in their life.

The Checklist

The majority of people around me aren't free. They're over-encumbered with "life". Let's face it, we've been brainwashed from day we were born: that we need to do certain things during the span of our life, or our life hasn't been complete. When an elderly grandparent dies at 80, people say "he had a complete life". When a 30 year old dad dies, they say "he had so much to look forward to, he'll never see his kids grow up". These are the subconscious phrases people say that lead to "do these things or your life went unfulfilled and therefore wasn't as valuable".


As I see it, there's a checklist to life that a person needs to follow in order to win their big shinny medal at the end and have it labeled "complete":

  1. Graduate high school
  2. Go to college
  3. Find a job
  4. Get married
  5. Buy a house
  6. Have kids
  7. Become grandparents

Under Pressure

Life's checklist is a very rigid list. Nothing can occur out of order. Have kids before marriage? Fail! Work a couple of years before going to college? You're unfocused. Slip-up anywhere on the checklist and you're a deviant.

There's a tremendous amount of pressure on people to follow the list. Think about it, how many times have you heard somebody interrogating a young couple with:

When are you going to get married?

After that, it's "when are you going to have kids?" or "when are you going to buy a house?"

Source: tattoodjay Flickr

From my experiences, it seems like women have been brainwashed a little harder than men on the checklist and will typically be the ones taking the lead in a relationship or pressuring others to follow the checklist.

Personal Freedumb

I reject the list. It obstructs my freedom in life. It stands in the way of doing what I want, when I want and how I want to do it. Any here's why:

Dating and eventually marriage severally limits your freedom. On average, a person has roughly 50-55 hours of free time a week. Free time = freedom. Guess what happens when you enter a relationship with another person? That's right, less free time. Now you're hanging out with their family, seeing their friends and going to John Mayer concerts. Sure, you might be in love, but is this really what you want to be doing?

If relinquishing your free time wasn't enough, eventually you freedom will be imposed upon. Want to hang out with the guys Saturday night? Not before getting it approved and dealing with a bunch of drama. Want to watch the new Zombie move that just came out? Nope, sorry.

Relationships are a Direct Democracy, being single is a Dictatorship.

Once you're in a relationship, I'd estimate you lose 60-70% of your freedom.

Economic Freedom

Marriage also affects another type of freedom...economic freedom. Economic freedom, to me, means spending my money, my way. Want a new TV or computer? Sorry we're buying a new bedroom set and furniture.

The problem, especially in relationships is when one person makes significantly more than the other. All people have the same amount of wants and needs, but not all people make the same amount of money. When you're in a relationship with another person they will attempt to spend 50% of your income regardless of how much they contributed to it. Essentially you're losing money and your economic freedom by being in a relationship.

My money, before purchasing a car

Another way to exercise your economic freedom is to live debt free. Each loan you have is a commitment. It means you have to have a job. As we all know, keeping a job is no longer as easy as it once was. Student loans, car loans, mortgages are all things that limit your freedom and causes a tremendous amount of stress. By eliminating debt, you increase your economic freedom and release yourself from the shackles that loans place upon you.

Home Ownership

Home ownership is another thing that limits freedom. Homes are permanent, life is random. Homes do not allow for rapid change. Apartments do. Lose your job? Now you're stuck paying for that house for the next 30 years or until you can sell it. Good luck selling it. Get hired by Facebook? Now you can either pay for two mortgages or turn down the job.

Realtor Cards

Homes limit your choices and therefore your freedom by imprisoning you in specific location.

Maintaining The Status Quo

As you move through life's checklist, your number one priority will be to maintain the status quo. This means: keeping your job, your house, your wife and your kids.

These are all things you need to devote time and money to in order to keep. If you're unable to do that, be prepared to deal with a lot of unnecessary stress. Stress that you wouldn't have to deal with if you hadn't subscribed to the checklist. Giving up time and money means giving up freedom.

In order to keep your 3,500 square foot house, condo in Florida and 2012 Lincoln Navigator, you need to keep that $90,000 a year job. Lose that job and suddenly you're not able to maintain the status quo anymore.

Having these things doesn't give you more freedom, they make you a slave to your job. They make you work more hours, meaning less time to actually enjoy the things you've worked for. Remember more work = less free time.

The more "stuff" you have the harder you have to work to keep it.

Freedom Isn't Free

Korean War Memorial. Source: jepoirrier Flickr

Of course freedom isn't free. You will essentially be living on the fringe of society. Be prepared to be regarded as the old, weird single guy. Be prepared to have people constantly pressure you to "get into a relationship". Be prepared to almost never hang out with your friends again since they prefer to hang out with couples. You'll also be forced to witness others celebrate their accolades as they progress through each phase of life's checklist.

Obligatory Takeaway Paragraph

I guess if there's anything I'd like to get across in this post it's this: Actually stop and think about what you want from life. Not what other people think or what society thinks but what you want from life.