Friday, January 1, 2016

You don't need permission

I thought I'd start the year off by reminding myself and anyone else who might need to hear it that you don't need permission.

For years and years I held myself back with the thinking that I could only do something once I'd learned the theory of it, taken a class in it, been certified in it.

This is the most pernicious part of certification (whether this be having a "spiritual guru", getting a degree, attending that art class or writing workshop, whatever).

It's so easy to mistake someone saying "you've successfully worked through a basic training regimen in meditation/computer science/poetry" with "you now have permission to meditate/program/write".

With notable exceptions (surgery, law, accounting) you don't need anyone's permission to do the things that grab you.

These courses, these certifications, these teachers are nothing more than tools - if you feel that they're able to help you achieve some kind of artistic or scientific or philosophical goal, by all means, take a class, do a meditation retreat, whatever.

These things can and, in a lot of cases, will make you better at what you love, but they shouldn't be mistaken for permission to do what you love.

I know that in my case, waiting for permission was just a way of covering up fear of failing. But there's no guarantee you'll succeed, no matter what marks you get in some class. It might help, sure, but it'll never guarantee success.

So draw, code, write, dance, paint, philosophize, meditate, sing, run, take photographs, read difficult novels without worrying about the 'hidden meaning' of the text, build robots, pick up a video camera and make a film.

You don't need anyone's permission. You just need to be a little brave.