Beginnings are a total illusion.
What I call a beginning could also be called the end of the thing that happened before it. Drawing lines to mark beginning and ending is an effort to keep that bit of my life in place and make it easy for me to know where I am. Except I don’t know, not for sure. I find endings especially tricky. They are like shadowy things that smudge the very edge of my vision only to vanish when I turn to look directly at them.
So endings are illusions, too. Mirages shimmering with reward – if I can just go a little further.
These lines I draw add to the collection of devices I use to judge myself. Measured lengths of failure and success, with roped off sections of partial doings that linger with hopes of becoming finished things. Judgement pending. It is only now in this moment as my fingers type the words that I feel brilliant and awake! Those roped off events were long ago completed, V.I.P. me.
Perhaps that is why endings shimmer. They aren’t taunting me because once again I have failed to finish, but shifting in the endless flow of my life to the next place on the path.
For most of my life I have considered lack of discipline to be one of my worst failings. Sticking with a job and getting to the end of it was never as exciting as beginning it. My initially determined and inspired steps would falter, then would begin the ugly self-talk. You know the kind of stuff I mean. That bully in your mind that says all the things to perfectly stomp all over your willingness to keep trying. Because, “who do you think you are kidding?” anyway.
Then one day I was reading an article talking about compassion: what compassion was, how we forget to apply that concept to ourselves. I knew it was true for me, because I pretty constantly meted out consideration to other people while allowing the bully to carry on. But it was a such a subtle campaign to undermine my confidence. I mean, I’d come so far and grown so much! It must have been something out there that I needed to fix.
It took me a while to recognise the instigator of that campaign was me. Just me. I was confused and then surprised about how ugly and mean I could manage to be to myself. And the stunningly ridiculous part was that for anybody else I could ALWAYS find a way to be kind, to accommodate requests, to give a little more. I had to think about this for a while.
And it did take a while. But you know what? It was not a kindness to do everything that was asked of me, to always give and pretend that it was what I wanted. I had never been a setter of boundaries, because that was restrictive and freedom was free of restrictions. Bullshit. This was the answer!
Setting boundaries – clear limits to what I was willing to give, gave me the space to REALLY be free. Because considering what I wanted, knowing where the fence was and then letting myself loose, allowed me to run with joyous abandon. Because I knew that the fence was there and I didn’t need to constantly drain my energy into wondering what I would do if…
Setting clear boundaries for myself was a kindness for me and everyone around me. Suddenly I was completing the things I was inspired to begin, because they were inside my fences. There was no restriction. In setting boundaries, I was actually setting freedoms.
I was reminded recently that we all start at zero. The reminder came to me at the perfect time, as things pretty much always do – right when I was starting to wind up into my usual preoccupation with needing to feel like an expert in the field before getting on with the work that I felt drawn to do.
Hearing we all start at zero (thank you Chris Fox) encouraged me to believe that what I knew just might be enough to begin with. And I really wanted to write! So I began – in the middle of feeling like a novice with little clue about the correct direction to move in, which was a fantastic experience! And what is correct anyway?
What a surprise when I realised that in the course of actually doing the work I wanted to do, I sensed a growing awareness that I knew what I needed to know. I was expert enough in being exactly who I was and doing things in exactly the way I did them, which was completely right for me. And it’s completely right for YOU, too.
Begin. In doing so, you send yourself the only permission you need to receive in order to get on with the job.
It was wonderful to discover that my knowledge base was much larger than perhaps I might have thought it was. I took it as a lovely big push to dive deeper. There was a point at which I had watched so many YouTube video tutorials, read so many blog how-to lists, and listened to so many podcasts on my chosen subject that I realised I had my own opinion on the content and advice I was ravenously consuming. Even more wonderful was when I realised that my opinion was unique – and really important to me. Furthermore (and with a rebelious glow) I understood once and for all that I don’t have to agree with all of those other opinions.
There was strength in that. And then I knew that I was already the thing I wanted permission to be.