“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
― Marcus Aurelius
It will take a few weeks to get the pictures of people lost and wandering in the flooded streets and yards out of my mind. It will take longer for them to get a clear picture in their own minds of what life might be like in the future. Watching people dig through rubble after any of the disasters in our world leaves most of us feeling a portion of the sadness and loss they are experiencing. Our choices in life are made so much clearer when we watch people recovering from storms, natural or otherwise. We can live afraid of dying or as Aurelius reminds us, choose an even more fearsome alternative — that we never really begin to live.
“Mom, did you sign my permission slip?” either of our sons would ask when they were younger. With my signature and a small fee, they were off on another adventure to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch or to march in a parade — to see life outside of our town. Children shouldn’t need permission slips to be themselves or to find the joy of splashing in a puddle, though many are programmed exactly that way. Neither should we as adults require another’s permission to reach for stars that might seem unattainable or too pointed to those around us.
This is it, this is your PERMISSION SLIP!
I do hereby give you, (fill in your name), permission to enjoy your life, as long as it doesn’t endanger another person. What items might need to be included on your permission slip? You have permission to:
- Walk barefoot in the rain and smell the flowers that ask to be smelled
- Sleep late when you need to (unless you have people counting on you to show up)
- Save money to take a trip outside of your own city, state, or country
- Decide what you believe (religion, faith)
- Laugh at silly jokes, no matter who thinks they are downright lame
- Wear mismatched socks (but could you not wear dark socks with Bermuda shorts when you work in the yard? Oh, go ahead, it’s your life)
- Take the job that makes going to work something you enjoy
- Sign up for a cooking class if you really want to be a better cook or an automotive class if you want to learn to fix your car (or watch an afternoon of free YouTube videos)
- Pay someone to do chores you don’t want to do (if you have the money to pay them) and not feel ashamed that you didn’t do the chores yourself
- Love someone with all of your heart
- Think your own thoughts
- Look in the mirror, in fact, I am asking you to look into the mirror and say, “I don’t have to wait for someone to give me permission to be myself and have fun in life.”
Recently, I’ve given a lot of thought to the messages I’m sending — especially to myself. For a year, I wanted to move my desk, and I finally did it. A small thing, but I gave myself permission nonetheless. Who is waiting to receive permission from you to experience more in life than a trip to the apple orchard (though as adults even that might be a fun and unexpected trip)? Your children, your spouse, your parents, your friends? Who needs to hear, “I hereby give you permission, even though you do not need it.”
It seems we use our words and judgments to prevent people, especially ourselves, from living full lives. I don’t know about you, but I’m going to take that trip with the guy I love, I’m going to tell my kids to reach for the stars, but to have a plan. I’m going to not fear death and not die having been afraid of living.