Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Close Enough To Feel

I won't form attachments. I won't count on faces or patterns or schedules. I will be a freelancer, living day to day, check to check, gig to gig, focusing on the work, not the place, the tasks at hand, not the people handing them. I will keep my distance, so as not to get caught in the crossfire. It is an excellent freelancer's credo, don't you think?

But then an email arrives, announcing the departure of someone much more an acquaintance than a friend. And I realize that I am close enough to feel punched in the stomach. Attached enough to be sad about her leaving and excited about her having new opportunities. I discover that it's hard to maintain the distance of a freelancer after half a lifetime as a full-time, part-of-the-team employee.

I am beginning to realize that my version of freelance may never turn out to be quite the freelance I imagined. If you care about the work, about how you spend your days, it's hard to keep from caring about the people. If you invest your time and talent, it's hard not to be interested in the people investing right beside you. Freelance may come with fewer strings to hold you, and may, therefore, allow you to see more in the world, but there are ties nonetheless. Even if you can't always count on schedules or patterns, you can still add up the value of the people you meet, and still calculate the worth of what you're doing.

Work circumstances will change constantly, I know. I can protect myself by not having expectations, by not forming attachments. Or I can choose a new definition of freelance, one that ties me loosely enough to wander a little, but keeps me close enough to feel.

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