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THE FREE SPIRIT

    Once a free spirit stubbed its toe.
    Had it been moving too fast, the free spirit wondered as it hopped about clumsily in pain? At the speed of thought, mishaps were probably bound to occur. Still, until this moment, the possibility of a stubbed toe hadn’t seemed even remote.
    Crashing full tilt into some barrier the free spirit could have understood, or even being vaporized by the force of its own zeal. Do nothing half-heartedly, it had always believed, nor trim your nature a whit. 
    Could you grind along in low gear and still call yourself a free spirit? How? Like some Hummer guy in slippered comfort idly thumbing outdoor catalogs by the fire? Or the professor who extols the liberating world of the mind but thinks some ideas are too risky to belong there?  Or the creative voice at a howl, driven only to shock? Was that the life of a free spirit? Any more than a nation of voyeurs maxing out their credit cards on Internet porn and watching bored proxies huff and puff through their fantasies for them?
    No, these claims to freedom all had the fetor of shuttered minds. The sun needed letting in, and the wind too. Clear the air and dry away the mold, and then you could speak of being ready to begin, just begin, the life of a free spirit. Loosed from tethered thought and senses, you might then pick up enough speed to escape the bounds of the known and be among the first to enter new worlds. 
    But then to stub a toe? To be pulled up short and shown the limits of inspired flight, what greater mishap could befall one? Suppose the toe was broken. Hobbling about in a cast would hardly do. A free spirit on crutches, what could be more ludicrous? 
    How long would it have to make do, in that case, with limping over ground once covered in a flash? Tripped up by every small root and stone while trying to recall the exhilaration of soaring at will and sharing a skin with the farthest star. 
    Now suffering the pinch of a narrower lot, the free spirit gained a new sympathy for those who found true independence a difficult affair and settled instead for something less. Life as a semi-free spirit might be worth a try, judging by how many appeared to draw strength from merely chanting the mantra of liberty and hearing the echoes roll around inside their own heads for as long as it took to feel ready for their day. 
    You could get by on lowered expectations, the free spirit supposed. And besides, who would know? Stubbed toes were as common as colds, so your sudden stumble might go unnoticed amid all the bluff self-assurance and showy parade steps.  There was comfort in numbers, to be sure.
    A guarantee that freedom as most defined it wasn’t really all that difficult to fake if need be.