Autonomy

I’m in the midst of a seven day quest to determine my most important desire. I’ve considered what it means to be true to my ‘authentic’ self and what it it means to be inauthentic. Today’s exploration takes me into the realm of autonomy.

Here’s the definition I found most satisfying for ‘living authentially’: authenticity is experienced in the moments your expression and behavior are aligned with your closely held values.

This begs the question of what are values and how are they defined? For example, it seems like the values of a person raised in a family- or communal-oriented culture might have a different value system than someone raised in a fiercely individualistic culture. Predictably, the range of values shift significantly within the research.

Of the spectrum of values I hold, autonomy is at or near the top. For this post I’m using ‘free from coercion’ as the definition of autonomy.

Since I’m not particularly interested in living without house or home, or living a life of food precarity if I can avoid it, I choose to work. For a substantial number of people this equals autonomy. I have the freedom to choose between working for a wage and extreme poverty. Choice!

That’s always seemed like a spurious argument to me. What reasonable person is going to choose the hardship of a life without income (whether inherited or worked for)? When it comes to food/clothing/shelter, is it really reasonable to chose NOT to have those physiological needs met?

So, if I want the basic fundamentals of life, food/clothing/shelter, then I’m coerced into labor. My autonomy is restricted.

That’s just the way it is, kid. You can’t fight city hall. Suck it up and stop whinging. You have it better than a lot of other people even if you do have to work at a job that’s not perfect.

And there’s my dilemma. I like the creature comforts money can buy. I have a lovely home, retirement savings, disposable income, luxury I don’t want to give up (thanks in no small part to privilege and luck). But to gain that I have to trade a huge chunk of my daily autonomy. It’s possible I could find another job that feels less onerous and more rewarding, but I think that’s mostly the luck of the draw, and has more to do with who I work with than what kind of work I do. There are very few jobs for indolent dreamers whose greatest ambition is to hang out with friends and goof around.

With that said, perhaps autonomy isn’t, right now, my most important desire. I still have two more days for this exercise, so I’ll approach it from a different angle tomorrow.

***

While digging around for info about today’s research I stumbled across the Post-Futurist Manifesto by Franco Berardi.

“Beauty exists only in autonomy. No work that fails to express the intelligence of the possible can be a masterpiece. Poetry is a bridge cast over the abyss of nothingness to allow the sharing of different imaginations and to free singularities.”

(100 Days of Blogging: Post 063 of 100)

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