Whose permission are you waiting for?

I chanced upon a feature on Kate Schapira via the Gen Dread newsletter today.

Kate, a writing professor in Rhode Island, was struggling immensely with newfound climate distress after reading an article about disappearing coral reefs. Married to a cartoonist who had a lot of Peanuts books lying around their house, her idea for a climate anxiety counseling booth took shape. That started in 2014 and now, 10 years later, Kate has had countless conversations with regular people about what scares them about the climate crisis and why.

She’s channeled all that she’s learnt from these conversations in a book titled Lessons from the Climate Counseling Booth, coming out this April.

When asked about her idea for a booth, here’s what Kate said:

One thing that really drew me to it is that Lucy Van Pelt, who runs the psychiatric-help-for-five-cents operation, is wildly underqualified for that work. She’s a child. I think there’s even a moment in the strip when somebody asks her are you really a psychiatrist?” And her response is, was the lemonade ever any good”?  

So I like that lineage of someone who was not qualified for what they were doing, but was trying anyway, because I think the truth about meeting the overlapping, multiplying, escalating challenges of the climate-changed future is that nobody is qualified for it. But all people have elements of what they’re good at and what they understand, what they think about, where their courage is, where their skill is, that does qualify them to meet this situation in combination with other people.

As someone who’s constantly feeling the lack of papers or accreditation as a solid reason for not doing something, this really resonated with me. Whose permission am I waiting for is a question that has been helpful as I talk myself out of — talk myself through — these loops that stingy. Very non-generous, non-generative.

I return to this line from Peter Block very often — The Answer to How is Yes. Maybe one need only to say yes. You have to first dare to want it. When the universe hears your wholehearted Yes, the universe conspires.

January 18, 2024