You Don’t Need Permission
I thought long and hard about publishing this post with nothing but that headline.
In some ways I think that may have even been the best route to go. Who knows. You’re going to get a little more detail as to what I mean by that regardless.
You Don’t Need Permission
Not for a damn thing.
You don’t have to wait for someone to lead the way. You don’t have to wait for the circumstances to be right. You don’t have to wait for a sign. You don’t have to wait for someone else to give you permission to do anything.
You just need to give yourself permission.
You don’t have to keep casting all those thoughts and dreams aside. You don’t have to think maybe next year. You don’t have to worry about how something might turn out; what something might look like. You don’t have to have to.
You can do anything. Now.
You got a dream that sounds crazy? You got a wild hair? A freak flag? You been wondering what if? You been thinking that you could be good at something; that you might like something new? Well fucking do you. Do it. Give yourself permission.
Quit waiting for someone else to do it for you. It ain’t gonna happen that way.
There are no ultimatums
You can do something now, or you can do something later, but the doing of it now is just as possible as later if you’re willing to stop waiting for permission to start.
Just do it.
The process won’t change. Running a mile is still running a mile. Applying for a job is still applying for a job. Starting a business is still starting a business. Traveling to another county is still traveling to another country. You just have to actually start the process in order to do it, and that’s the hardest part: to give ourselves permission to begin.
But that was the case with all the paths in our lives at one point wasn’t it?
We weren’t born with any set plans or stuck in any routines. At one point everything was an option, and we just have to remember that we don’t have to be stuck in anything now. That we can still choose to start a new, wondrous journey each and every day.
We can have any future. Now.
I mean how many people spend their whole lives going down one path, working one job, just so they can actually afford to live afterwards? And how many of those people never make it to the age where they can actually enjoy the fruits of their labor? How many of those same people are so run down by the time that they get there (running over and over again on that same path) that they just don’t even have the energy to enjoy whatever’s left? That they have to settle for assisted living instead.
And how did it become that we need to afford to live after, instead of that we can’t afford not to live now?
Running Through My Brain
That was a bit of a ramble, and this may sound a bit crazy too, but this whole train of thought came about by a quandary I had while I was running yesterday.
You can keep running or you can stop running.
That is the quandary that I had. And I mean that both literally and as a figure of speech.
Let me explain.
I used to run all the time with the mindset that I couldn’t stop running. That to stop running discounted the actual completion of a ‘run’. That I was quitting if I stopped. That it didn’t count unless I ran the whole way nonstop. That whenever I ran, I was to have a higher and more literal stance for my idea of what an actual run was.
It was very similar to the way I lived my life. There was a path of success I had to follow, and that to stray from that path would be filled with unnecessary risk and lowered standards. That so long as I did what was understood to get ahead in life, I would be successful. It was easy: high school + college + career + marriage = success.
It wasn’t until I followed that path that I later realized you can only find dead ends when going down one path. That in order to actually arrive at a destination, my own destination, there had to be more room for adventure, more room for going off course, for choosing the path less traveled, and for following your own compass. Otherwise, you’ll just end up somewhere and never understand how you got there, or who you are.
So with life, like my previous approach to running, all I actually managed to do was give myself burdensome ultimatums. But they weren’t real ultimatums. They were choices. I chose to not stop running no matter what; to go down a path with only one possible goal in sight; to have only one possible outcome; to be unsatisfied with anything else. And by doing so, I limited the possibilities and the experiences that I could have had otherwise. I prevented myself from enjoying anything outside of my own narrow goals.
You simply can’t enjoy things as they are, if you always have a plan for how they should be.
There was no stopping to smell the flowers in my approach (to running or life), no taking short cuts, no chatting with strangers, or no stopping just because the run was no longer enjoyable. I wanted to be so in control of life, that I was totally inflexible to it. I didn’t give myself the permission to enjoy anything outside of which I had predetermined to be necessary, and I didn’t allow life to surprise me as a result. I didn’t allow myself to truly live.
Living, I have learned now, isn’t about being in control; it’s about relinquishing it. Being purposely purposeless. To give yourself permission to do things simply because you can, and allowing the meaning to come from the meaninglessness of it all.
That is living.
(Side note: You’ll have to listen to the Tim Ferris podcast The Man Who Studied 1,000 Deaths to Learn How to Live to really understand what I mean by those last few thoughts. It doesn’t mean your life shouldn’t have any purpose, or that the things you do should have no meaning. It means giving more time to enjoy the little things rather being wrapped up only in the bigger goals.)
Now, back to my run. So on my run the other day, down this trail I had never been on before, I found myself once again competing with all those old standards in my head: to choose a distance and stick to it, to keep running, to stay on the path, etc. Failing to give myself permission to do anything else. And then I saw (before what I had envisioned would be the turn around point) the tell tale signs of smushed mulberries on the trail. Which brought about an inevitable dilemma for me, because I really do love mulberries. At this point I had a choice to make: to either keep running and stay with the plan, or stop running and give myself permission to ‘ruin’ my run by snacking on some potentially delicious mulberries.
So, shirtless, and behind a slightly run down apartment complex with people watching, I decided to stop my run and enjoy what life had presented before me.
I decided to give myself permission to be the odd man out on the trail, not running, but eating.
Isn’t it funny how something as simple as free fruit on a tree probably isn’t enjoyed by the people who run, walk, or live by it everyday? How normally we wouldn’t give ourselves the permission to enjoy it without the confines of someone else giving us permission to do so first – in a store, in a container, or from a farmer. Not gonna say it was a low hanging fruit, but it was definitely an easily obtainable one.
Anywho, what I decided is that I had no reason not to try it. I had no need to do anything else. I had no had to. I could just do whatever I wanted to, if I chose to. And as such, I granted myself permission to do so. I allowed myself to sacrifice the burden of a plan to live in that moment. And those mulberries were glorious!
Having stopped to enjoy them I felt so much more alive than I ever did on my run (even though my heart wasn’t pounding quite as hard as it had been before).
I dunno, maybe this story is a bad metaphor for the point I’m trying to make. To use how I gave myself permission to stop in order to inspire others to do. But I believe it represents the same choices that we make each and every day to do or not to do something. Choosing whichever solely because we feel it is permissible to do so. That it is acceptable to do so.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that, the more I give myself permission to stop now, the more I actually begin living.
Just say yes. Say “Fuck yes!” to everything.
You don’t need my permission.