Not That You Need My Permission

by Mark Chmiel

It’s OK if you write three lines
It’s OK if you write 3000 lines and never pause to ask, “Who’ll read this?”
It’s OK if you write 10,000 notebook pages and never let anyone see them

It’s OK to get tired of writing practice
It’s OK to take a break, oh, maybe seven years from writing anything
It’s OK to be a prophet of privacy

It’s OK to cease and desist sharing your every random thought
It’s OK if you think no one would care to read your formulations and fulminations
It’s OK to devote yourself to badminton or the history of Motown

It’s OK if you de-activate your blog(s)
It’s OK if you just say No a hundred times to someone who is always, relentlessly over the top badgering you
It’s OK if you see the writing game as another ego trap

It’s OK to spit when you hear the name “Natalie Goldberg”
It’s OK to be grateful and never never breathe a word about it
It’s OK to write out by hand a letter of all your tortured, terrific secrets and then strike a match

It’s OK to take all your notebooks to the dumpster
It’s OK to delete 7, 926 laptop files
It’s OK to no longer be impressed by Virginia Woolf and Nima Sheth

It’s OK if you enjoy listening to”Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and “Sweet Virginia”
It’s OK if you never write another letter
It’s OK if, just as you think you were getting in the groove of texting, you put away your cell phone and return to the way we were in 1998

It’s OK if when you notice a literary aspiration rising in you to watch it linger and then dissolve
It’s OK to embrace magnifying your financial portfolio than sharpening your sense of syntax
It’s OK to embrace the Great Zen Silence before you enter the Great Silence yourself

It’s OK to recycle all your Apple products
It’s OK to recall who you were before the writing began
It’s OK to channel Ai Weiwei and flip the bird to the person who just encouraged you to write down the funny ass story you told at O’Connell’s

It’s OK to prefer to join the revolution and run guns like Rimbaud
It’s OK to learn something from every single person because you were paying attention
It’s OK to declare ¡Basta Ya!

It’s OK to give peace a chance
It’s better to give samadhi a chance
It’s OK to give loneliness a chance

It’s OK to give social disruption a chance
It’s OK to lose your life
It’s OK to lose yourself in a small town just on the other side of Mount Vernon

It’s OK to accept the yoke of the Torah
It’s OK to hum Led Pelvis songs
It’s OK to remember you’ve died many times, many times rose again