permission to dream

dream and let dream
Dream and let dream, Gouache on paper, 2005

“When I snoop into the lives of artists I admire, I generally find people who at one time or another have taken charge of themselves and given themselves some sort of permission to act on their dreams.” -Robert Genn

I’ve been receiving twice-weekly letters from Canadian artist Robert Genn since 2005, and for the first time, I’m quoting him and not another artist he mentions in his letter (Managerial Mode) … 🙂

The permission to let ourselves chase after our dreams– sometimes it’s a neglected aspect of being a dreamer. But so much so is it critical. The subtle acceptance, and celebration, that yes, I am allowed to live the way I want to, and allowed by me! Wow! And not because I’ve earned it (maybe not yet), but just because!

This gentle shift may just be the missing link in turning dreams into palpable everydays. Maybe it’s the official start, when our eyes see the fine threshold that separates our now–where we stand dreaming–and our possibility–where we actually live and breathe the dream, and when we actually cross it, paying our toll fee by asking permission.

Because with permission necessarily comes asking. And we seldom ask permission nowadays. How often do we use “May I” vs “Can I”? There’s a sense of entitlement in Can– for as long as we work hard, we earn our keep. In Spanish, “Can I?” is puedo, which actually means “Am I able to?” It speaks of action, ability, of something we can direct. “Can do” statements are powerhouse affirmations for positive thinking and are just as essential to dreaming, but without the gentler “May I?”, the process is incomplete. “May I” uses the Spanish conditional, podria— polite and hopeful, aware of the genuine risk of being turned down (it’s not up to us!).

May I be happy?
May I get rich?
May I be a great daughter, sister, mom, wife, friend?

What do you have to ask permission for?