I Fight Authority, Authority Always Wins

So the other day I was taking a piano lesson….


Yeah, I take piano lessons. This came about because my young son, Anton, wanted to take lessons, so we got him a teacher. And lots of times as he’d be practicing, I’d sigh and say: “Gosh, I wish I’d stuck with lessons when I was a kid. I’d love to be able to play now.”

And he’d say: “Well, you could still learn.”

And then I’d say the usual adult thing: “Well, I don’t really have time and it’s harder to learn as an adult and I’m a little afraid of your teacher…”

And this went on a couple of times ‘til he finally said, “Mama. You just became a life coach. You tell people all day long to follow their hearts and do what they love to do. If you don’t do that, do you know what that makes you?”

“….A big fat loser?”  I asked.

“No,” he said. “It makes you a hypocrite.”


So anyway, I was taking my piano lesson the other day and I was telling my teacher how much I really hate to practice. I hated it as a kid and I still hate it now. I told him—“I think it has to do with hating authority. If someone tells me I have to do something, I usually look and them and say, ‘Oh, yeah? Watch me not do it.’”

I laughed and looked around at my messy house.  “I think that’s why my house is as messy as it is,” I told my gifted teacher, Kelly.  “I hate doing things the way you’re supposed to do them. “

 But a little later, as I was rooting through the omnipresent piles of precariously stacked music, looking for a sheet of chord progressions that I needed, I sighed and said to the waiting (and luckily, patient) Kelly: “Sometimes I wish I could be a little more willing to deal with authority.  The lack of it in my life comes back pretty often to bite me in the ass.”

Well. I didn’t say “in the ass,” not to Kelly, as he’s a religious person and I didn’t want to offend him. But I thought it. And it did. It bit me in the ass AGAIN.

My lack of love for outside authority is bad enough. It had me at odds with my mom for years. But my lack of love for my inside authority is downright obnoxious.

It’s true. I hate even my own authority. I’ll think: “Gosh, I’d like to start eating in a healthier way.”  And my little authority hater goes: “Really?” And the next thing I know, I’m mainlining Twinkies. Or I’ll think: “It would probably be smart to try to get a routine going about work. Maybe write a blog at the same time every month or set particular hours to work.” And my hater says: “Yeah, let’s do that, right after we: go to the movies, go shopping, talk on the phone, go on Facebook…”  Whatever it is that isn’t work, that’s what my authority hater wants to do.

I can’t really blame her. I have to admit that on some basic level, authority sucks. Being told what to do and feeling controlled is something no human wants. Or anyway, the humans I try to control, i.e. myself, my husband and my kids all seem to hate it. But—it’s not that fun, really, to be fighting against myself all the time.

I came in the back door today after dropping my kids at school and thought: “I should practice”—and then immediately thought, “Yeah, right, piss off, authority. Who’s gonna make me?”— and right then it struck me that the word authority has the word author in it. Hmmmm. Well, that got me thinking.

Author. Writer. Creator. Someone who makes up stories or researches things that are true and then writes them down in a way that makes them interesting. Someone who creates stories just as she wants them to be. Someone who uses author-ity.

Well, I have to say, this gave me pause. Somehow, breaking down (what I perceive to be) the meanness and pettiness of authority into something who just takes ownership of creativity makes it a lot easier to think about working with it. I mean I do get to write my own story.  And I guess I can keep the one about the disorganized creative who loves writing, but never actually finishes anything. I can keep the story about the woman who wishes she could be healthier but can’t bear to have anyone (even herself) tell her how to eat a little better. And I can stay with the one who says an organized house is the mirror of a boring mind. But—I think I’d rather authorize a different one.

I don’t really know if I can do it, to tell you the truth.  To trust my own authority—well, it seems like a huge undertaking. I first will need to see what my own true desires are, for how can I be authoritative about something I’m not sure I want? Because trust me, being organized isn’t really a big desire of mine. But being able to find what I want when I want it would be great.  And—I really do hate to change the way I eat. But having more energy? That would be lovely. So, where is the change? How so I write a different story about my own author-ity?

As ever, when working with authority, I suspect it will take compromise. Authority says: “Clean your house!” The creative Author-ity says: “Just get your music organized. Who cares if the beds are made, as long as you can find the stuff you need every day?"  Authority says: “Practice the piano or by god, you’ll be in big trouble!” Author-ity says: “Wouldn’t it be cool to go fool around on the piano and get that one phrase right?”  Authority says: “You put that potato chip down right now, young lady!” Author-ity says: “Doing yoga would be fun.” Authority says: “You’re too old to keep wanting to act and sing! Give it up!” Author-ity says: “Bullshit.” (Okay, no compromise on that one.)

But—compromise on some of these smaller things might be a good place to start owning and trusting my own authority.  And look at that. Huh. I love it when this happens. See? Compromise holds promise in it.

That’s promising, isn’t it?




This entry was posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 at 8:36 pm and is filed under Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “I Fight Authority, Authority Always Wins”

  1. Square-Peg Karen Says:

    Ohmyword, I love your style (and the fact that you mention being conversant w/swearing on your Meet Me page)!
    What touches me most is how you write heart-opening, hope-filled stuff – sharing your own stories (the kind that help me accept myself AND be open to change). Add in your ability to shine on-camera (that video! ohmy ohmy ohmy!!) and I'm in internet heaven! 
    Thanks for being so open – and fun!

  2. kate. Says:

    Get out of my head!!!
    I get frustrated with my day job and think how I need more autonomy but I do the exact same thing. I sabotage myself in dreams and goals because there is no autonomy autonomous enough. I rebel against what I tell myself to do. But, when I look at it from the flip side, doing whatever my whim is, whatever strikes me in the moment is actually mired in inertia. I'm naturally pretty active, results driven, but if I'm not in that mode I can lose hours upon hours on hulu just because I'm feeling contrary. I really like your perspective on this. I'd love to hear how this change of perspective is working for you and I'm going to try it.
    Thanks for sharing!

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