“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?” Or so the line from that old Joanie Mitchell song goes.

I can well understand the ancient cowboy’s sad viewpoint and his great dismay at seeing barbed wire fences being strung all across the prairie and through what forever had been free open range. 

As time passed, more humans came by the hundreds. More tracks, trains and towns developed and grew like weeds after a heavy rain. 

Kids, schools and churches seemed to bring a pleasant change.It was a bit of bright civilization amid the wilderness at first. 

But they continued coming and they brought with them lawyers, developers, regulations and restrictions to the cowboy’s lifestyle forcing him to adjust.

But freedom is something you can not adjust, restrict and control and still have it exist. It either is or is not. 

So somewhere around the year 1900 everything changed radically. Automobiles, industry and towns growing into cities spread across the land like a cancer. It was the end of the Old West, and the curtain came down for the freedom loving prospector, trapper and cowboy.

It had been building gradually up till then. But finally it became quite evident that the old days of the West had ended and a new era had begun.

And time rolled along.

Something similar occurred around the year 2000 in my estimation. 

The changes had been building up slowly and quietly. Computers became popular in the 70’s and 80’s. They gained a firmer foothold in the 90’s. And by the turn of the century a great many of the world’s functions such as transport, communication, banking, etc. were being run electronically. 

Those of us who were not computer savvy and keen on the new ways were left high and dry in the past much like our misfortunate cowboy.

I suppose it’s easy to claim ourselves victims of circumstance and factors beyond our control. There seems to be no end to the number of such factors to blame. Also, being a victim seems to be in vogue and catered to in our present society. 

But, in reality, we know it’s just an excuse. We know that we ourselves choose our individual lifestyles and are ultimately responsible for our own lot in life be it good, bad, happy or sad, etc.

I know that from pretty near as far back as the time of Adam, old folks like myself have sat around lamenting how times have changed for the worse since the good old days of our youth.

But if I could turn back time or if I could grab something from our past bringing it into existence here in our present time, well that most precious gift would be freedom.

I know it’s often been said that everyone longs for freedom. But I have my doubts about that anymore. I see people build walls, live in gated communities, buy insurance and demand more government security and protections. For these they willingly trade their privacy, independence and freedom.

Freedom is still out there. It rises with the morning golden sun in the desert. It soars with the eagle and roams with the wild horses in the mountains.

If you listen you may hear it call to you in the wind. 

It may be asking you to come experience and enjoy it’s brilliance before it’s all chopped up, pulverized and paved over by Apple, Google, the military, developers and the BLM.

Dan O’Connor can be reached at danhughoconnor@gmail.com