write! (or act, or dance, or sing) | december 10, 2009


natalie goldberg, wild mind, hedgebrook, writing
As children, we are conditioned to seek permission from our parents, if we are lucky to have one or both of them. In grade school, we ask the teacher when to go to the bathroom; and as adults, ask our bosses if we can leave early from work or take a vacation. We seem to always be asking someone permission for something, like they're God standing with a giant thumb poised over our heads, ready to squash our joy.

It takes a long time to outgrow that conditioning, and maybe even a lifetime to realize that it is only your fear hanging overhead -- a frightful ghost that disappears when you look it square in the face (my yoga instructor actually repeats her fears to herself in the morning mirror, watching them scuttle away).

I recognize this often in fellow writers, always asking whether they are "real" writers, when they will become "real" writers, why they are writing, and whether they should be doing something else. We can be vulnerable people, using writing as a form of self validation.

Nevertheless, it dawned on me today that I have finally stopped asking myself those questions. I'm not sure when, exactly, but it likely had something to do with Hedgebrook.

In reality, nobody can give you permission to live your life except you. Nobody has the right or authority to tell you that you aren't a writer (or actor, or dancer, or singer) or that you should not write (or act, or dance, or sing) if that's what brings you joy.

As an artist you are not anybody's child, you are an embodiment of divine energy imprinting your unique vision on the world. And nobody can give or take that from you. The energy is already flowing through you; you have only to give yourself permission to experience it.

So write (or act, or dance, or sing) because it is your right. Open up the book of your life, write your name on the first page and fill it up with all of your dreams. Then close the book, get up, and go after them. If you get lost along the way, there is a wonderful book that I am reading that is helping, called Wild Mind, by Natalie Goldberg. I carry it with me in case I forget.

And if you still need permission from someone, I give you permission to be who you are in all your divine brilliance. You may go to the bathroom, take a break, eat chocolate cake and spoil your dinner, but you may also officially stop asking if it's okay.

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts


+1 347 857 9224