Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Permission Slips

I've spent the last half hour or so cruising the 'net, and I was led back to a website I used to check out often. It has been changed around a little, renovated, and has a slightly different name than it used to. Now it's Colorful, fun, intriguing, challenging, and eye-opening website. How to live with gusto, create art, and give yourself permission.

Permission to do what? To dance. To relax. To take a nap. To draw. To read a book in one day. Permission to write a letter to someone you admire. To find a piece of poetry you respond to. Rewrite it and glue it into your journal. To write a letter to yourself in the future. To fill an entire page in your journal with small circles and color them in. To write a list of all the things you do to escape. To do nothing. These came from the list of nearly 100 ideas of things to do on her website.

I'm gonna add a few things that have occurred to me:

Permission to eat cheese cake for lunch (again).

Permission to laugh loud and hard when something is funny.

Permission to cry whenever you want to.

Permission to yell and scream in the car when you are alone. To scream out the stuff you are happy about and the stuff that is driving you crazy - while you are driving. I don't mean that we should yell at other drivers. I am referring to using the car as a personal padded room, as an isolation chamber where we can let it all come out - without apology.

Or at the opposite end of the spectrum, permission to ride in the car in total silence. No radio, no talking, no telephone. Just ride, absorb, observe.

To wear outrageous colors together in the same outfit and watch how people respond.

To wear crazy nail polish colors.

To smile and tell someone how beautiful or handsome she/he is. For example: I love red hair, especially on women, so I will often tell redheads how beautiful their hair is. I never fail to get a huge smile and heartfelt "Thanks" in return.

To tell a stranger that you like their shoes. I think everybody worries about their shoes, so let somebody off the hook.

To thank the cashier for doing what they do.

To be quiet for an hour, say absolutely nothing for an entire hour.

Permission to make mistakes. To apologize when you have done something wrong without offering an excuse or explanation. To allow others to make mistakes, even really big ones, and let it go without making a big deal. To not correct someone who is in the wrong - even just once. Permission to accept someone else's correction or criticism without defending yourself. Permission to allow others to defend themselves without attacking them and trying to break down their defenses.

I am giving myself permission to accept the contradictions in myself and in others. Openly. Brazenly. Confidently. Here's a personal example: I hate how wasteful we are as Americans: food, water, electricity, and fuel - just to name a few. But I love to shop. I love going to the supermarket, department stores, Good Will, tag sales. (The main exception to this statement is WalMart; I can't stand WalMart. But that's a-whole-nother blog.) I love all kinds of shopping. Huge contradiction - but I live with it. I accept it. I am willing to honor both of those parts of who I am. I wish we would all give ourselves permission to admit our contradictions, to stop trying to justify them, and just get on with the business of life.

I hear the skeptics in the audience moaning, groaning, and accusing me of excessive tolerance, being over-indulgent, and not forcing people to take responsibility for their actions. Phrases like "politically-correct liberal," "lily-livered pacifist," and the like have all been thrown my way; I can take it.

Other responses to my pontification about contradictions include the following: "If we go around forgiving everybody, who will answer for their mistakes? Do you mean that there shouldn't be prisons? Some things are just wrong, and we cannot let those things go unpunished. What will become of our morals?" To those people, I grant you permission to disagree with me, to accuse me of anything you want, and to make the best decisions for yourselves in this matter.

But to those same skeptics, I ask: what have you done of late that you know you need to be forgiven for? To be released from? To be granted immunity for? Aren't you glad that there are people in your life who give you permission to be forgiven and to move on? People who accept the contradictions in you? People who don't hold you accountable for every mean word, every curse word, every dashed hope, and every broken promise?

I like Keri Smith's idea of giving ourselves permission.
Permission to think, speak, write, create.
Permission to improve, to stagnate, and to regress.
We all do it anyway, so why not give ourselves permission
to stagnate with gusto? To regress with pride?
Every once in a while.

What will you give yourself permission to do?

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