Begin so slowly that you are the only one knowing anything is happening.
Or suddenly, all at once, then retreat to the bath for hours.
1. Begin with endings.
With love for what was, while listening to what wakes you in the night, choosing to say good-bye. With walking out of some places, closing the door behind, because to leave but leave the door open is only refusing to release what has already left.
Maybe some bridges can be burned. Because they got you here and you don’t ever need to go back. So you can let even the grief end.
Begin with endings, which is to choose life, your own life.
2. Clear space.
The deep clean. The burning of seven years’ worth of paper, and notes, and journals and things. The letting go of time sucks, and energy drains and anything that even resembles pretending. It is like tying up the loose threads, closing the open loops; so bullshit can’t sneak its way back in, so you can have the wholeness of your heart—at home inside you.
It’s like shedding snake skin. And then you lie there, on the wood floor and there is nothing there that doesn’t belong or want to be included. There is space now, the fullness of cleared and emptied space and so many things are possible now.
Unfurling bit by bit. This isn’t a race. Or a contest. There is nowhere to go or get to. It’s just the being here, beginning, that feels so good.
4. In the unknown.
Beginning places me in the uncharted—everything new. And it happens to be that we are driving at night and I can only see the few feet in front of me. There is radical freedom in this. I trust, but I do not know what comes next. Welcome to the beginning.
5. By deciding, that there is nothing left to wait for.
Or you are tired of waiting.
There are no special occasions. Or everything is one. I can’t even tell you how or why it happened. Just that one day, I decided to stop waiting. And that was the beginning.
6. Think simple.
The way spending two hours working on a pie crust can be a beginning. And walking up and saying hello can be the starting place. And going to the Laundromat, washing and folding, makes all the pieces start to fit together and you know then what you are ready to now do.
7. In fits and starts.
So slow you are the only one knowing anything is happening. Or sudden, all at once, then retreating to the bath for hours. Beginning isn’t the same as having everything figured out or there being nothing left to learn. It just means you were ready to cross some kind of threshold and see what happens next.
8. Occupy your own space fully.
Inhabit your own self wholly. And how you then no longer need to even do a big thing around defending and protecting your boundaries. There is just no longer space for things that don’t fit or belong that do not bring you alive. No negotiating required. Without interference, without the constant managing of things, bending myself to fit another’s form, things begin to take care of themselves.
9. Begin quietly.
Keeping it inside for a while, not talking about a thing until it’s ready for the world and bright light of being exposed. And oh, how good the sun feels, when it comes to the place and how it can also burn. So choosing to begin growing in the dark. Because public announcements are not the same as beginning. Often times, that is much closer to the middle of a thing (a new stage of love, but not a newborn baby).
The beginning often happens in the quiet of night, or in the secret messages written to yourself while at work, or in the vow made by the ocean when it was only you standing there and what happened will never be spoken but it was the beginning of all the things that came after.
10. Start with just one thing.
One step. One sentence on the page. One word. One pause and checking in. One nod of the head. One kiss. Or even before the kiss, one fleeting moment when knees happened to touch and you could feel the heat crawl through your whole body. One long exhale. One plane ticket bought. Just one thing.
“I’m scared,” I said. “What if it all ends? Or just falls apart? What if I’m left with just ashes and broken things again?” “You know,” she said. “You don’t have to decide the ending, before it’s even started.”
11. Do it daily.
Every morning. All things made new.
12. Take risks.
Like life is here to be explored instead of analyzed. Like your heart is here to expand and contract, open and close and open, again and again and again. Like your days are here to be lived. Like there is space enough in the clearing, to just try things and see what happens.
And how this is what it feels like, taking back your own power.
It’s not about insistent certainty. Just freedom, to begin on your own terms, without expectation of anything. Because to be here at all is some kind of mystery. Here, for the learning, and the dancing in the coffee shop, and the beautiful mistakes and the unexpected and the chosen.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Richard May / Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Carolyn Kernan / Pixoto