Montreal, September 1, 2001  /  No 87  
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Scott Carpenter is a freelance writer who lives, works and plays in Dawson Creek, BC.
by Scott Carpenter
          My friend Buzzard and I sat quietly in his Chevy pick up watching the sun set over a horizon of canola and peas. We were glassing a small mule deer buck that was feeding just about a hundred yards off the driver side door down towards the creek bottom. We were hoping to get a look at a bull moose before the season started the following week when Buzzard turned to me and said: « Scott, don't you ever wish you could just turn it all off? »
          I was a little surprised at his query – it seemed out of context and out of character for the guy. I hadn't thought of Buzzard as a deep thinker so the question was enough to make me put the binoculars down and forget – at least momentarily – about the swarm of mosquitoes that had infested the cab of the truck. 
          « Whadaya mean? » I replied, knowing full well what he was talking about. 
          « Doncha wish you could forget about all the bullshit, just for a day? Like, wouldn't you just like to pretend that all the shit going on around you isn't really happenin'? Wouldn't it be great to just come home, turn on the tube, grab a beer and say to yourself: "this is all I'm gonna do or worry about tonight," and actually mean it? » 
          « You mean, wouldn't it be nice to just pretend that the bills were paid and to quit worrying about life's little responsibilities? » – I was playing devils advocate. 
          « Don't be an ass, » quipped Buz, « I mean wouldn't it be nice to think that you don't have to worry about all the shit you write about in your column? Like gun control, taxes, bad government and stuff? »  
          I cut my friend off in mid thought and lectured: « All government is more or less bad Buzz. »  
          « Uh huh. Whatever. Anyways, seems to me it would be a lot easier to just go through life and pretend that none of the stuff you guys write about exists. » 
          « I didn't think you read my stuff Buzzard. I'm flattered, really. »  
          « Well I do. So answer the question... » he replied matter o' factly. 
          « What makes you think I don't turn it off? » 
          « Because, » Buzzard paused and looked me in the eye, « ever since I started thinkin' I can't stop. You know the guys, they're always talkin' about trivial shit and drinkin' beers. It just doesn't cut it for me anymore. It's not that I don't like to sit n' socialize, it's just that the conversation bores me. They haven't got a freakin' clue about what's goin' on around ‘em. I've gotten so I can barely stand it. » Buzzard leaned contemplatively over the steering wheel and gazed longingly into the pink sky. 
          « I think you worry too much. » 
     « The greatest lie of all isn't that man SHOULDN'T be free but rather it's that you AREN'T free. Buzz, you're born into this world with your own mind. It isn't controlled by anyone but you. »
          Buzz laughed sarcastically and said: « You're a freakin' hypocrite. » 
          « No I'm not Buzz. I've simply arrived at a state of complete and total laissez faire. I no longer give a shit. » 
          « Ya right. And that's why you're still writin'. Cause you don't care. » Buzz chuckled and shook his head. 
          « On the contrary, I do care. I just don't care about them. » 
          « Ok, now you're startin' to lose me. » 
          « Well, I reckon it's rather simple Buzz. You see, once you open your eyes you go through a sort of state of shock. You move from a place where you thought you were secure, safe and free to a place where you realize your freedom is gone. Kaput, toast, history. You can't stop thinking about it because it's all around you, everywhere you turn. It happens in government, in the workplace, on the tube and even in your personal life to some degree. You want to escape it, change it or at least smack some sense into society. But you can't Buzz, you're just one guy livin' on a big planet with a lot of people who basically view other human beings, including themselves, as slaves. And I figure right now you're in the second stage. It's a good thing too, it means you're mind is active and you're askin' questions that never occurred to you before. You just haven't seen the truth yet is all. » 
          « I still don't see how it is you don't give a shit and what truth are you talking about?, » he asked under a raised eyebrow. 
          « That you are free of course, » I grinned and anticipated his reply..... 
          Buzz shook his head and brushed a bloodsucker off his cheek. « You're messed up man. First you say we aren't free and now you're telling me we are? What kinda crap is that? » 
          « It's not crap it IS the truth. The greatest lie of all isn't that man SHOULDN'T be free but rather it's that you AREN'T free. Buzz, you're born into this world with your own mind. It isn't controlled by anyone but you. 
          « You, at all times and in all places, have the ability to think and to decide the fate of your own life. All roads and paths of action lead back to the self. You have a choice Buzz: to live by their rules or to live by the laws that nature has set out for us as men. In fact it's always been your choice, not theirs. All they can do is beat you up, imprison you or kill you for failing to play by their rules. Of course this weighs heavily on most people's minds – I suspect most of all on yours. But for people like me, it's no longer an issue. Both you and I know the difference between right and wrong so as long as it ain't hurtin' anyone I don't worry about it. In fact, I have a little saying Buzz: "A free man owns a concealed carry holster, regardless of the law." 
          « Or to put it more succinctly, as a guy by the name of Heinlein once wrote: "I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I  tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." Do you understand what I'm sayin' here Buzz? » 
          « Ya man. That's some pretty deep shit. » 
          « Actually, it's pretty simple shit. Which is why I can't figure out why other people don't think of it. Anyways, does it make you feel any better? » 
          « Maybe. I need to think about it. » Buzz looked back out over the horizon. Our buck was gone and the sun had finally set taking the pink sky with it. 
          Buzzard turned the key of the truck and pointed the front end back towards town: « You wanna grab a beer before we head home? » 
          « You mean ‘and turn it all off?' Damn straight. » I grinned and put the specs back into their case. 
          I wonder.... maybe there's hope for Buzzard after all. 
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