Eleven years ago, I made the tough choice to dedicate my time to furthering freedom.
It was hard to say no to well-paying, private-sector clients. But it was not hard to see that the last line of defense was to stop bad laws from being passed, and to enact new policies that remove barriers to individual freedom, on specific issues, on the state level. It was not hard to see how I might help by showing people how to bring faces to their policy reform projects. It was hard to say "no" to incoming requests.
By five years in, my family had gotten so used to me being on my computer during holiday gatherings that they had stopped complaining.
By seven years in, I realized the only friends I had outside the "freedom movement" were from high school. That year, I signed up for a wine-making class, started selling veggies at the farmers' market, and found a classical choir to sing in.
By nine years in, I had not taken a vacation without a digital leash in so many years that when I finally went on a three week camping trip across the country, I realized I had forgotten how to have fun without a planned activity. Every moment of every day was scheduled, had a deliverable, pre-work, post-work, and no room for illness, death, birth, please's, thank you's, or life.
Two years have passed since the irony hit me on that camping trip: Dedicating my time to defending freedom had cost my personal freedom through overcommitment.
It has been a slow recovery and I am not out of the woods but there is a path. A path that leads to small joys. Small joys like helping a baby goat come into the world when its elbow is caught in the birth canal. Small joys like building a free website for a small business without funds to make it happen, but with a passion for helping people become more fit. Small joys like singing carols to elderly people around the holidays. So many little things, leading back to a happy life with more freedom at home.
To all my friends out there giving your all to defending freedom in the policy arena, keep fighting the good fight. Keep fighting it, but remember to take some time for yourself to take care of the little things. For it is often the little things that make the biggest impact for freedom.