D.T. Pennington

Writer – Photographer – Creative Coach

Arbitrary Authority

An idea I’m working a lot with lately: nothing is real, there is no control. An extension of “only worry about the things you can control” mixed with “well, I ain’t dead.” Because when you step back and really think about all of it, nothing really matters. Everything that makes us anxious and in a place of conflict is usually something orchestrated by someone else.

This is something that comes to mind every time someone says “financial freedom,” as though finance is something we are trying to escape from. While I fully understand it is a mythical idea of having enough “passive income” where you don’t need to worry about jobs or working, the way we talk about this sort of thing very much implies that we are all rats in a cage. 

In the early days of my freelance copywriting, prospective clients would ask if I was “Storybrand certified” or if I could share my copywriting credentials as though there was some measure a “qualified writer” could hold themselves to. When the best education a writer can give themselves is in the literature they read, what is being qualified? Is my result any better because I’ve written a check for a certification? But this is where we have to question the reality – who gets to decide what is qualified? Who gives a governing body the jurisdiction and authority to proctor tests and deem who is or isn’t worthy of a certificate?

Step back and you’ll see our overly litigious and insurance-heavy society playing a never-ending game of covering-ones-ass. Companies insure those who are certified by a governing body the insurance companies usually fund – basically saying that you’re a “safe bet” in a world where everyone is a bad actor.

Maybe this is a good idea for some things. Doctors, mechanics, technicians – people who work in the face of biology and physics (the realness) should know what they’re doing. Beyond that – who is asking for your paperwork?

Because why shouldn’t my first role as an actor be for some big-budget hollywood blockbuster? Why not have my first painting hang in the Whitney? Of course I’m the finest writer you’ve ever known, and who are you to say otherwise?

In a world where authority is arbitrary, go nuts. Power is either issued or taken, and then it is issued by those who take it.