I was admiring my friend’s paintings, beautiful watercolors and abstract oils, when I said that I like painting but they always look like a pre-schooler made them.

“Permission to suck!” she clapped, like a ship captain bestowing a freedom. In three words, she gave me the mantra I needed, one I wished I’d had when my kids were little and did not want to try some new sport, or skill, or fill-in-the-blank, because they weren’t any good at it.

It seems that it was not only my children who needed “Permission to Suck”– the freedom to be a rookie, a beginner, to find joy in something even if I am no good at it.

So in the spirit of this permission, here are more permissions I grant myself:

Permission to say what I think.

Permission to succeed according to my own definition.

Permission to be small, a drop in the ocean, a glint of sun. Permission to be vast.

Permission to feel sad, confused and adrift, and to take time to find my bearings.

Permission to lapse from confidence to self-doubt, and to remember that these are stages of the human and artistic process. Permission to take all the time it takes.

Permission to be contented in a world with so much pain, as long as I am not content with there being so much pain. Permission to skip reading, watching, or listening to the news as many days as I want.

Permission to take five deep breaths, and to let them out slowly, whenever I need. Permission not to argue.

Permission to enjoy chocolate and wine and my perfectly soft belly.

I give myself permission to follow many interests, even in a society that wants us to plant a flag and say “this is who I am” (meaning “this is what I do“), a culture that is uncomfortable with blurry lines and multiple pursuits.

May you give yourself permission to walk an untrod path, push back the overgrowth, get scratched, double back and try another way, using whatever tools are at hand, sometimes only faith that there will be a place to step.

Making a new path, circa 2010.

What have you done because you gave yourself permission to suck? What might you try if you did? What other permission do you give yourself and others?

4 thoughts on “Permission

  1. Joyce and Laura,Thanks for this gift.  This would be such a great piece to share with our bereavement group with each of us sharing things we give ourselves permission to do or experience.With great respect,Jackee

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

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