Skip to main content
This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Remember playing that kid’s game where one person played Mother, aka Supreme Being Of All Game Things, and everyone else lined up to take turns asking for Mother’s permission to move?

I don’t know what the “real rules” are but I remember, of course, that Mother got to allow or disallow whatever Mother chose. I remember asking Mother if I could take three bunny hops and Mother saying No, but you can take six baby steps. I remember how easy it was to fix the game so that the person you really wanted to pass your Mother mantle to would reach the finish line first. I remember not everyone being pleased by this.

Every week I get an email from James Clear, the guy whose habit journal I filled in with little green hearts and blue stars every time I washed the dishes or did my daily walk. For a full year I filled in little boxes and for many sporadic months after that I continued to do so.

Once in a while, when I’m drifting off track, I print a habit page and fill in little boxes with blue check marks and yellow flowers until the wheels are rolling again.

The theme of his emails is 3-2-1. Three ideas that he shares about living your life, two quotes from other people to inspire you, and one question to make you think about why you’re filling in little boxes.

One in particular struck me recently, enough that I wrote it down, enough that I’m using it as my writing topic today.

To paraphrase, give yourself permission – to stop doing what’s not working, to do something different, to be “off” instead of constantly on. To take all the bunny hops you want and not to wait for someone else to approve.

This is right up there with doing things that serve you. Not what you think you should be doing or feel guilty about not doing.

It’s that spirit that I am giving myself permission to NOT write all the words today.

I’m giving myself permission, instead, to write merely some of them.

I’m giving myself permission to make popcorn with my cocktail and then do some puzzle and sit on the couch and play games until such time as I may then give myself permission to go to bed without washing the dishes.

This is different than giving up or bowing out. It’s different than procrastinating or avoiding. It’s different than going off the rails or succumbing to inertia. It’s merely allowing yourself to exist in a way that works for you right now, to shed the baseless rules and requirements. Permission to stop, to turn off, to find another path.

I’m sure this goes against the Success Manual and everyone’s Four Steps To Your Best Life, but I have my full permission not to care.

I highly recommend you give yourself permission to go off the beaten path today and do something different, including stopping what you’re doing. And to be fully guilt-free about it.

A mini-rebellion, if you will.

I’ll be over here with my afternoon mojito and a cooking magazine that I’ve been neglecting because somehow it didn’t make it onto The List. I made a summer playlist on Spotify and the dancing must commence. I hereby give myself permission to take a giant step off the hamster wheel and take three big twirly steps instead. The words, and the rest of the world, will wait.

Photo: a winding path in Lynn Woods, Massachusetts. Isn’t it more intriguing than the straight and narrow?