Free will is an amazing thing. It’s defined as the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate, the ability to act at one’s own discretion, the ability to make a decision and act upon it.
With the recent 25th anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square protests as a reminder, the freedom to demonstrate our personal will is a serious matter – something for which we should all be grateful. As Americans, we take a lot for granted, such as exercising our free will on a daily basis.
But there’s an amusing side to free will.
When babies take wobbly first steps and fall flat or when people exercise their will to style their hair as they want or dress a certain way (but perhaps shouldn’t), let’s face it, sometimes we laugh.
If not for free will, we’d have no “funniest home videos” shows to watch on television. A person’s free will can be a reason to applaud their audacity or question their judgment.
I observed free will in motion recently, and it made me laugh out loud.
It was a Sunday night. I was watering my flowers. I live on a very busy street. A car horn took my attention away from the forsythia bushes. I glanced up to find a truck driver honking at a big, funny dog.
I will call him “Dog” because I don’t know his name. The dog was running down the middle of the street, ears flapping, tongue wagging, ignoring the line of cars forming behind. He was literally flying.
This dog looked like a Labrador mix, but he must have been part Great Dane because he had the longest legs I’ve ever seen. He was a tall, skinny yellow dog with the face of a Lab, wearing a bright blue collar.
Dog was someone’s pet. At the stop light, he was oblivious to the fact that he was in the middle of a busy street. He was just going for a run, panting, stopping when the cars stopped. He stood in street. No fear. When the light turned green, the cars and trucks took off, and so did Dog.
I dropped the garden hose, turned off the water spigot and ran for my keys. It was time for a dog rescue. It’s just part of my DNA.
I could not understand why no one was pulling over and trying to coax Dog out of the street, and I could not bear the thought of him getting hit.
I got in my car and took off toward the racehorse dog. About four or five blocks down the street, there he was, nosing around in a yard. I pulled in a driveway, jumped out and yelled, “Come here, Dog. Come on, get in the car.”
As I yelled, Dog stood up, saw me, heard me and took off running as fast as he could back toward my house. He was full-on Secretariat. Again, he ran in the street, then, thankfully, got on the sidewalk.
I hopped back in the car and followed.
A block past my house, Dog turned down a nearby street. About halfway down that street, he ran up on a porch. As I was turning my car around for a closer look, I saw a small child open the front door. Dog walked right in.
I’m not sure, but I think I saw him look back at me. He was probably having a good dog laugh at my expense. I assumed this was his house, and he was finished with his run. What a rascal. I sat in my car and cracked up.
Sometimes exercising your free will takes guts. Sometimes it’s pure bliss.
Free will is something that most of us take for granted. But not my neighbor, Dog. He was exercising his free will as well as his long legs. He didn’t need me to save him, but he does need someone to train him. Or maybe an electric fence.
The next time you want to sing at the top of your lungs in church (even if you’re not sure about the key), go for it.
The next time you can get outside and just go for a walk or a run, do it – even if you don’t really have time. Enjoy the freedom.
And think of my hilarious neighbor, Dog. He may pass you by.
This article is dedicated to my late brother, Robbie Johnson, born June 8, 1967. He loved crazy dogs as much as I do.
© Terri Johnson 2014
Richmond native Terri Johnson is a marketing and communications professional and free-lance writer in central Kentucky.