Free Advice

Without thinking.

I sat down at the computer—completely in the moment, and a word unexpectedly popped into my head—spontaneity. “Why not write about that?” I thought.  “Okay!” You are now reading the words that flowed onto the page from that stream of consciousness.

The word spontaneity triggered an image of my friend from 40 years ago, Jed Free. Yes, that’s a real name! I have no idea what ever happened to him, but he was clearly a “free” spirit, so to speak, an unusually independent person, a loner of the nth degree. He only spoke on rare occasions, and when he did it was in a rather cryptic but meaningful way. Mostly, he just silently shuffled along with shoulders rounded, as if clutching his latest Bob Dylan album to his heart—always looking down in the vicinity of his frayed gray sneakers. I can’t say that I ever really made eye contact with him, but in some strange way, I have to admit that the guy actually changed my life.

True spontaneity

Of the few things I ever heard him say, one short phrase has stayed with me as one of my favorite quotes. In fact, it’s become a bit of a mantra, gaining credibility and substance as the years have passed. One fateful day, Jed muttered under his breath, “Spontaneity is Truth.” I was really impressed and have never forgotten those simple words of wisdom he so casually uttered to no one in particular. And that’s when my world began to change.

Socrates – king of logic

Careful thought, whether a pressing issue or a serious decision has always been considered a strength—you know, coming up with a well-organized and logical response? Or, to pause just a moment before answering a question provides a few seconds to consider the implications of what is said, thereby selecting just the right words at just the right time. Most people would probably say being thoughtful in that way is a good thing (in this world of hyper-sensitivities). Important first impressions and knotty problems to solve deserve reflective consideration. Right?  However, if you’re trying to eke out the truth, the thinking path doesn’t necessarily get you there.

A “handy” way to say it

There’s an honesty in something blurted out—not conditioned, preconceived, qualified, sanitized or nuanced—if you respond with the first thing that pops into mind. The “true” inner voice speaks out with transparency. Most of the time, it’s surprising what brilliance and beauty hides behind the well-considered, “politically correct” reply. Unfortunately, our most creative ideas may never even see the light of day because, frankly, we may think too much. So there you have it—a bit of spontaneity in writing, untouched by the spin doctor.

With that burst of open, honest truthfulness, I’m going to take another run at finding my old friend Jed through the internet. If anyone out there happens to know his whereabouts, or the actual source of that wonderful quote, please let me know. I owe whoever said it a debt of gratitude for changing my life (via Jed). My hope is to one day discover a previously unknown philosopher at the other end of that bit of brilliance. But, even if I don’t uncover that deep well of provocative insight, I’ll still continue to make the most of the quote in my everyday life—at least as some incredibly useful free advice!


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