A friend called me on Monday afternoon. He knew I’d hit a few rough and bumpy patches lately.

He listened to me moan and whine and then he said some pretty powerful words. “You have 24 hours to feel bad about this — eat a lot of ice cream, whatever it is that you do when you’re feeling bad. When the 24 hours are over, you have to move on.”

24 hours. My friend gave me permission to wallow for 24 hours.

(What I didn’t tell him is that I’ve been moping for two weeks!)

I needed permission.

I needed permission to stay in bed past five am, permission to sit at my desk eating trail mix by the handful.

More than that, I needed permission — direction — to put a stop to my self-centered self-pity.

I needed permission to move on.

I needed permission to look to what’s ahead. To leave the mistakes in the past.

I needed permission to make better decisions moving forward. I needed permission to envision a new future.

I needed permission to move on.

My friend gave me permission.

What I’m finding is that in order for me to move on, I have to let go.

In order to move on, I must give others permission to move on to what’s next in their lives —  not making it about me, but about them: their freedom, happiness, right to choose.

They don’t need my permission, of course.

It’s a paradox like forgiveness, which is a gift to the one forgiving perhaps more than the one forgiven.

In the mental discipline of my granting permission to you, I am giving myself permission.

In giving permission to you to move on, I am giving myself the same permission.

What frees you, frees me.

You have permission to move on. I’m on my way.

photo credit Alex Pearson