I have a writing buddy that I regularly talk with by phone. She is at the beginning of writing a book. I am at the end. Even though we are in different places in the process, it never ceases to amaze me that no matter what topic is up for either one of us, there is always much to be gained in a partnership that holds two ends of the same continuum.
Recently, we had gone a month without meeting due to scheduling conflicts and time commitments. We had agreed though to keep working on our projects, despite the gap in our regularly scheduled check-ins. When we finally did talk, what we both discovered was that neither one of us had done much. No submissions had been tended. No chapters edited. No calls or inquiries made. It was easy to see that both of us were feeling like we were coming to the call with not much to speak of.
However, standing in the reflection of the other, it was much easier to see the truth of what each of us had actually been doing, and giving space for. All of the ways that a lot had been happening for both of us. That we had indeed been “working” on our projects on some deeper, perhaps harder to see, below the surface kind of way. Recognizing this in both of us, my buddy proposed that we give ourselves total permission to continue doing the supposed “nothing” of the past month for another two weeks. That we give ourselves over to giving lots and lots of permission to what was already happening. That we, in effect, trust the process deeply enough to let the so-called nothing be a central part of all the doing that is required in getting a book written and published.
This is not easy to do in a world that demands productivity. A kind of “show me the money” mentality. A kind of “you are only as good as your last sale” attitude. A world that applauds speed and how much you can generate in the shortest amount of time possible. A world that does not often recognize the slower, deeper and more invisible work of creating. A world that is too often blind in its ability to honor the pacing, rhythm and integrity of the process; favoring outcome instead.
Permission is defined as “formal consent.” A type of “authorization.” When applied to the process of giving birth to something, that part feels right. What I would argue with is where that consent and authorization come from. I say this because of how many of us have come to believe that permission is an externally generated bestowal we hope to god to get from another, or perhaps the culture at large. However, this belief has got it backwards. For at its truest and most life-giving, real authorization is granted from the inside out. It something you claim as a birthright. It is something you offer to yourself as a sacred and irrefutable fact of Life.
The permission to be who you are, expressing yourself as you express yourself in any given moment, is not only the greatest gift you can give to yourself, it is the greatest of what you can bestow to another. For in Truth, if each of us had the strength, the support, the inner recognition and the clarity of purpose to give ourselves all the permission we needed, all would be right not only in our own world, but in all the worlds at large.
My suggestion? Find a permission buddy. Someone you make a pact with to show up as you are, while offering them the same. Someone whom you can trust to bring forward ideas, thoughts, emotions, wonderings, concerns and more. A mutually agreed upon consent and authorization that gives the space required for a human being to be in a process, whatever that looks or feels like, where that effort is seen and honored, and where the end game is merely a by-product.
Can you imagine what it would feel like to not only give yourself total permission to be as you are, doing what you are doing, but to also be so blessed as to find that with another?