• frank and fearless •

A belated well-wishes for Independence Day. I am big on independence, all kinds of independence: I adore autonomy, self-expression, and independent thinking. They used to call my type ‘free-thinkers’, though I can’t imagine what they were thinking, as we all know that ‘free-thinking’ is anything but free. In fact, it frequently comes at a heavy cost, socially. It takes courage, and a certain amount of independence (there’s that word again), and a willingness to pay that price, to exercise that modicum of autonomy. (There’s that word again, as well.) But I say, do it. Be that fearless and frank one who will follow one’s curiosity to whatever end that Nature has in store, for discovery. So again, friend, happy Independence Day!
I imagined a conversation with the girl, yesterday, where we are talking about art and artists, and philosophy, and I was sharing something I read from Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without A Country, where he asks his friend why it was that some writers seem to have control over their writing, and why it was he himself didn’t feel that way, and his wise friend said something along the lines of, that “There are two kinds of artists: ones that respond to their writing (careers), so far, and those that respond to Nature itself.” And I realized that that can apply not just to writers, and artists, in particular, but to every sort of person, and groups of people, and to political parties, and cliques, and religious affiliations, and on and on and on: traditionalists, one might say, as opposed to, say, scientists, for example, who change their thinking continually, according to what is now known to be provable, and more importantly, disprovable, day by day. These latter sorts of people have to be frank and fearless in saying what conclusions their many iterations of robust inquiry have brought them to. Not the most popular guy or gal, at the ice cream social, I’m guessing. But that’s where the independence comes in. You have to have cultivated a certain aspect of yourself to be frank and fearless, and autonomous, in preparation for that happy (let’s be honest: or unhappy) day when you must stand alone and say, “Everything we have understood, so far, about (fill in the blank), is wrong, (and here’s why).”
Go for it, I say. Respond to Nature. Be frank and fearless, or at least, consider it. Happy Independence Day!
~ Tim Burchfield