I was talking to a very wise man recently, and he spoke to me of permission.  Having been afflicted by a sleeping disorder for years, he was at the doctor’s one day when clarity struck by means of a simple and straightforward question.

“Are you tired?” asked the doctor.

The man thought about it for a moment and responded, “Not really.”  They both looked at each other realizing the first step to the problem had been solved.

The ‘disorder’ wasn’t really causing the man any true problem, other than the inconvenience of not allowing him to maintain a sleep schedule consistent with that of the rest of his culture. He found it somewhat challenging to navigate within the social constructs of a society that tends to sleep an 8-hour night within the same set of hours.

Does the rest of the world work like this?  Not really.  The doctor proceeded to explain how it was very rare in other cultures that people were able to sleep for 8 hours during the period we consider normal sleeping hours.  The demands of their economies and geographies, family structures and living arrangements dictate different sleeping hours, ones that allow them to carry out their functions in society but do not restrict them to believing they should or must be asleep at specific times.

And so the remedy to this man’s problem came through permission.  The doctor granted him permission to sleep when he needed to and to be awake when his body told him so. They both realized the condition wasn’t really a problem, and far from a disorder.  How are titles and names stigmatizing our views on health?

This story is analogous to all of our idiosyncrasies, challenges, and suffering…if we just allowed ourselves to be as we are, to not compare, to navigate the challenge of being slightly different than the mold, we could free ourselves of the oppressive and entangling anxiety that wrecks havoc on our creativity.

We actually do live in a free and accepting society.  There is not just one way of doing things; you are not an outcast if you don’t follow the mold.  It’s all relative (I’m thinking of other cultures where there is only one way to cut an onion and if you don’t know that one way, well…).

We already have the freedom to be as we are.  It’s usually ourselves who put up the barriers that act against us.  Give yourself permission to just be.


~ by maureenmoore on July 11, 2010.

3 Responses to “on PERMISSION”

  1. Very freeing! And, as always, well-written and heartfelt. The topper: I read this on Bastille Day . . . liberating, yes? ~Auntie TFJ

  2. Vie et liberté! ?! i fondly remember watching Bastille Day festivities with MB & J in Paris- my first international outing. And I still have the pink Parisian T-shirt you brought back for me from your trip:) Coziest pjs ever.

  3. It is perhaps surprising to point out that this doctor was firmly planted in the codes, norms, and training of “Western” medicine.
    – “the man”

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