I remember when I reclaimed permission to be happy.
I remember when I rediscovered my right to dream, and to expect that those dreams could come true.
I was 14. And the book that reminded me that only I could make me happy, and that I held the power to dream and to bring those dreams into my life, was Illusions; Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. Written by Richard Bach.
Some of you know the story, or bits of it. I contributed a short version of it to a group work titled The Thought That Changed My Life Forever. In that story, I wrote what I had often said - in conversation and from the stage - “I do feel the need to thank Richard Bach, a man I do not know and will likely never meet, because he shared a thought that saved my life.”
I finished my submission for the group work a full 30 days before deadline. And then I laid it aside. Something wasn’t finished.
Two weeks went by. I did some tweaking. I deleted some words. I put them back. I still wasn’t ready.
And then, checking my twitter account between speakers at a conference where I was due to speak, I read this:
@DixieDynamite got your brick walls book. Powerful, practical ideas for proving anything is possible.
The tweet came from @RichardBach.
He’d downloaded an ebook from my website. (That ebook formed the framework for the full-length book due out in November and so is no longer available for download.)
By the time I submitted that short story to the publishers of the group work, Richard had read it. I think it made him smile.
Richard left twitter a few months later, but that one message started a flurry of tweets, that turned into a flurry of emails, that advanced to telephone chats that lasted hours. By the time we met in person a year later, he had “badgered and bullied” me into writing a book, and had enriched my thoughts, and therefore my life, in ways I am still learning to appreciate.
We recorded a discussion for my Dynamite Dialogs Project, and while we were talking a tornado visited St. Louis. I sat it out, barely hearing the sirens.
I got brave enough to challenge him, and laughed out loud when he said, “You’re right, of course,” because I suspected he was only testing me.
I called him “Master.” In jest. Just once. And learned better.
He commented on my blog posts. And I blushed. He even asked permission to share one of my posts as a guest post on his page. I’ll admit that cost me a few happy tears. (Until his site is up again, you can only read that post here - not surprisingly, it was about dreams.)
I had a dream of being able to share my appreciation for that thought that changed my life forever. That dream came into my life under full steam, and kept on running.
When he launched his website (which is now only a single page with an address to send cards in care of his ex-wife) I got to say, “I told you so,” as he discovered just how many people felt the need to thank Richard Bach. Because he had shared so many thoughts. Thoughts that had transformed so many lives. I know that reading those notes of appreciation made him smile. (And having a place to share them made a lot of people’s dream come true.)
When he had me set up his official Facebook page (there was an exiting one with many “fans” but the owner did not respond to our requests for him to have access,) I laughed yet again at his amazement - discovering how large his “family” had grown and how rich their wealth of ideas and understanding had become. (I am no longer active on that page as I and the community from his website have moved our conversations to a Facebook group where we can more easily share as equal contributors. If you’d like to join that community, please reach out to me on Facebook.)
These last two weekends, since his accident, (which we’re calling his latest “adventure,”) I have hosted calls so that some of his online “family,” those kindred spirits whose thoughts and lives have been changed and expanded by Richard’s work, could share their stories and appreciation.
Voice after voice said, “It gave me permission to be myself, it gave me permission to be odd, it gave me permission to…”
What a powerful recognition - that we feel we need permission!
I’ve worked a lot with clients on dreams, goals, and permission. (Just Blow it UP, the second book I’ve written, due out from Sound Wisdom this November, includes my process for doing a Permission Audit.)
I know that for many of us, the permission to be who we are, to want what we want, to dream our own dreams, seems to be in someone else’s hands. Even permission to be happy, if we consider our happiness dependent on what someone else decides to do, becomes no longer under our control.
In the dialog I recorded with Richard, he talked with me about the Power of Consent - that we can withdraw our consent from anything and that no one can withhold their consent for anything we choose to do. They can impose consequences, but they cannot keep us from making our own choices.
He talked too, about “Attitude, Choice, Desire.” Telling the story of Charles Lindbergh as an example (while the tornado wrecked its will on St. Louis-Lambert airport, in the very city that supported Lindbergh’s dream,) Richard illustrated perfectly how our attitude determines the choices we make, and whether or not we attain what we most desire.
I closed my little story in The Thought That Changed My Life Forever (due out this Fall) with this:
“I say a prayer of gratitude for every dreamer, every writer, every reluctant messiah, everyone who has shared a thought, like a bird winging into the night sky. You don’t know whose heart those feathers might touch, whose spirit they might heal, or whose life they might save.”
Today I add, “or whose dream they might set free, to become the path of their desire.”
As those of us whose hearts have been touched, whose spirits have been healed, whose lives have been saved, and whose dreams have been set free, keep a spirit vigil while Richard adventures in other realms on wings that are neither feather, nor metal, nor fabric, all we ask is this:
Remember; the physical appearance is only an illusion, you are a “perfect expression of love and light,” as is Richard, as are we all. Set your own dreams free, follow the path of your own desire - for when you do, you grant permission, unnecessary but sorely needed, for others to do the same.