On Permission

We’ve all had that moment, when someone we know starts a new band, or perhaps a company, or maybe they get a position as an editor or publisher, or launch a new web-site. Whatever it is, we are glad for them but also our souls well up with expectation of being invited to join in the party, to play our part, to make a contribution, to share our gifts.

Then, we are not asked.

Maybe the person who takes our place, has more talent or experience or, maybe the don’t. In some ways it doesn’t matter. We feel let down, frustrated, perhaps even betrayed.

On Not Being Asked

This can be particularly hard to take if the thing we were not asked to do would have been a breakthrough for us. Maybe, it was the chance to gig in a larger venue, or get our photographs before a wider audience, or simply a job that paid us better. In our feeling of frustration lurks a big danger if we take not being asked as a sign we shouldn’t really be doing that thing after all.

Don’t confuse not being asked with not having permission!

It’s an elementary mistake, but I’ve made it over and over again; because I wasn’t asked to do something, I assume I don’t really have permission to do it. Or, that I’m not cut out for that kind of adventure.

Of course, this is total rubbish.

What You Have Been Given Permission To Do

The far better way approach is to say to ourselves, we have been given permission to do this, in our own way and according to our own rules.

So one person, or company has shut the door to us. We still have a world of other people who might be interested in our thing and, quite possibly, more interested if we do it in a way that is totally authentic to our story and experience.

Don’t Be A Supplicant

I’ve come to believe that it’s impossible, or certainly very difficult, to create any kind of meaningful art or creative work while taking the role of a supplicant, of someone who always needs permission or validation. In one way or another you have to move beyond that mindset.

This has particular significance because in many countries, artists are encouraged to be forever begging; by always living on a treadmill of grant and assistance applications. It might be the right thing for making bureaucrats lives easier, but it puts a creative soul in totally the wrong frame of mind to do their work

And, it encourages the attitude that if the grant process is unsuccessful, the work itself doesn’t deserve to be created. If anything, the opposite may be true. After all, many grant processes favour those who have a track record of work (even if it is mediocre) over those who are newcomers (even if their ideas are extraordinary).

Get Up And Get Going

Perhaps the worst thing is letting the “why wasn’t I asked” angst ruin relationships. Burning bridges makes less and less sense in our hyper-connected world. And, a frank and open, “why wasn’t I asked” conversation can be very revealing.

And, either way, it’s even more impressive if you just went ahead and did your thing, regardless of the setbacks. It makes for a great story and says a lot about you character.

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In his Tokyo studio Fernando combines his life-long passions for art and technology. On the road, he is always looking to take the next wrong turn, just to see what kind of images and stories might unfold. A photographer & writer, with a background in music, Fernando has lived in Chile, Australia, the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. Read More.


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