Beginnings feel different.
I don’t know about you, but I have spent a lot of time over the years considering the future, making resolutions, and in general trying to Be Good.
Funny how these resolutions - formed in the mind, expressed in the language of “should” and “want,” passionately chewed over and examined - rarely come true. More often they are replaced by a new and better idea, or simply overcome by events.
Compare this with the quiet, sure note - inaudible to anyone but ourselves - which sounds when something new really has begun.
In a moment of clarity and resolve, we commit to change something. In that moment whatever holds us back, holds us still, holds us apart - loses, and truth wins. A decision has been made. The new resolution seems as fragile as a spider web spun across an open door. Nonetheless it radiates confidence, letting every other thought and feeling know: “I have arrived. I am here. And I will not be moved.”
We haven’t told anyone yet, we haven’t taken any big steps forward. But somehow everything is different. So different that we feel no need to talk about it, to declare, promise or plan. Before, the tiniest resolution (I will wake up 15 minutes earlier in the morning) took hours of inner dialogue - convincing, exhorting, justifying - and still we overslept the alarm. Now, silence. And sureness.
This time, we don’t plan what comes next. Like a seed, intention sprouts in the dark. We are reluctant to disturb it. Rightly so. By some mysterious intelligence, the intention knows what strengths to draw on, what thoughts and habits to rearrange. It moves cleanly through the tangle of habit and belief which has held us back, releasing and rearranging. We may need to fight some battles, or we may simply let go. But somehow, the inner work gets done.
And then, almost by themselves, our lives change.
We start going to classes. Open a savings account. Sit down, five minutes a day, to draw. The test seemed impossible; now it’s marked on the calendar and we’re studying like crazy. The trip was a fantasy; now we’re sleeping with the tickets under the pillow.
The visible results are still small, but somehow this doesn’t worry us. The carping voice we have heard in the past is silent. One small step is enough, for today. Tomorrow another step. The steps will add up, will build on each other in surprising ways.
We don’t yet know where we’re going. We may still be attached to the life we are leaving. But we have stepped out the door. From now on, we are on the path to something, and the key questions will be: Am I being true to this path? Am I walking as honestly, as compassionately as I can? Does this lead me where I want to go?
This is a rich time, stimulating to the blood. The movement reshapes us, straightens our back, clears the dust from our eyes.
Now that the suffering is over, it’s easy to forget that the first step was not towards, but away, that we had to say no to something to create a space for something new. But we mustn’t forget, because sooner or later this path will end, and we will need to say no again if we want to move on.
So be grateful for the the wild, unsatisfied impulse, the dissatisfaction, the signs that something new is coming. Thank the bitter truth, the voice which says “I can’t do this anymore.” They hurt, because they are true. They break the ground, even if they break our hearts.
Before the beginning, an end; before the voyage, a goodbye.