‘Where Are We Going?’ said Dorfl, as Vimes strolled across the Brass Bridge.
‘I thought I might break you in gently with some guard duty at the palace,’ said Vimes.
‘Ah. This Is Where My New Friend Constable Visit Is Also On Guard,’ said Dorfl.
‘I Wish To Ask You A Question,’ said the golem.
‘I Smashed The Treadmill But The Golems Repaired It. Why? And I Let The Animals Go But They Just Milled Around Stupidly. Some of Them Even Went Back To The Slaughter Pens. Why?’
‘Welcome to the world, Constable Dorfl.’
‘Is It Frightening To Be Free?’
‘You said it.’
‘You Say To People “Throw Off Your Chains” And They Make New Chains For Themselves?’
‘Seems to be a major human activity, yes.’
Dorfl rumbled as he thought about this. ‘Yes,’ he said eventually. ‘I Can See Why. Freedom Is Like Having The Top Of Your Head Opened Up.’
“Feet of Clay”, Terry Pratchett
I’ve always felt ambiguous about the meaning of freedom. On the one hand I don’t fancy being controlled by anyone except myself, on the other hand… I guess I’m taking the word rather existentially, as to me it mostly means “not being tied to anything, at all”.
When I was very depressed a few years ago, I used to feel free in a rather scary way. I felt like I was bouncing along the world in a hamster ball, while even gravity had mostly given up on me. Imagine walking on the Moon – you just bound along in slow motion. So I was just a passive passenger who felt she could not reach out to anything and nothing in the outside world could stop my journey either. Just gently gliding through Stuff That Matters To Other People, from whom I have been separated by that hard curving wall.
It was really fucking lonely.
When I finally managed to break that Hamster Ball of Depression, one of my first goals was to create new and strong ties with people, so I would not drift away like that again. I think the main reason why I did not seriously consider suicide while being depressed was that it simply seemed like too much effort. I had stopped caring about mostly everything, especially myself.
I’ve come a long way since then but I still feel the need to check every once in a while if the ties I’ve made are still strong. Sometimes I haven’t tied knots very well or the rope just isn’t suitable for this purpose and it all comes undone. Other times the knots simply remain even tighter. And sometimes I just want to make a noose out of one.