Life without the pressures of full-time work, often called “retirement,” is what I like to think of as historically astonishing freedom — freedom unknown to the middle class through history until one generation ago. So I’m almost incredulous when I hear about people who are unhappy in their freedom. But this quote, from David Brooks, in his recent book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life, gave me pause:
Political freedom is great. But personal, social, and emotional freedom—when it becomes an ultimate end—absolutely sucks. It leads to a random, busy life with no discernible direction, no firm foundation, and in which, as Marx put it, all that’s solid melts to air. It turns out that freedom isn’t an ocean you want to spend your life in. Freedom is a river you want to get across so you can plant yourself on the other side—and fully commit to something.