26 July 2013

What Price Freedom? Invaluable!

Freedom is one of those human conditions we all strive for and yet can often be elusive, since there is a fine line between personal freedom and selfishness, the need to do your own thing balanced by the needs of others. The urge to follow our dreams versus the need to make ends meet. For most of us, these are the issues we battle with as we seek liberty—freedom to create what we want, be it a life, art, relationships, careers—but we should never forget we are the lucky ones. As a descendent of slaves I try to keep perspective by reminding myself that while I search for freedom to write what I want, to live as I like, it’s nothing in comparison to what my ancestors faced, and unfortunately what millions of people around the world still face.

Of course the search for freedom makes a wonderful plot point too, because it’s such a fundamental urge. In “Dragon’s Claim” my hero Talathion, an elf, has never known true freedom. Since the moment he was born his path has been set, the needs of his clan having to take precedent over whatever dreams he had for his own life. When his task is interrupted by an encounter with the dragon-shifter HervĂ©, Tala is left struggling to control his growing love for the other man, knowing there is no future for them. Too many others will suffer if he puts his personal freedom ahead of the task he’s been assigned.

And while HervĂ© can’t truly understand his lover’s need to do what the elf considers to be the right thing, he has to accept that the impulse to give, to elevate his clan through sacrifice, is an integral part of Tala’s character. He can’t love the man without accepting this facet of him, without accepting his freedom to be who he is at that most basic level.

And I think that is the ultimate freedom, being able to choose how we live, where and how much we sacrifice to build not only a good life for ourselves but for others. Without giving, without sacrificing for others and acknowledging those who have less, I don’t think we can truly appreciate what we have. So many people are bound in by expectations, traditions, the desperate need just to survive or the implacable control of others. If you are not one of these people, if you have the ability to choose where and how you live, what you present to others, how much of yourself you give, then enjoy that freedom. Enjoy it, and give thanks for it.
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