There are things I need to do. My inbox has too many emails I haven’t dealt with. My closet needs culling. I should take more yoga classes. I have some business ideas brewing. I need to reconnect with friends. - friends who have reached out to me and for no good reason, I have not found time to respond. I feel guilt, remorse, weight, I don’t know where to start.
Before you graciously and with-the-best-intentions forward your organizational tips, that is not my point. What is my inbox might be someone’s sagging career, heath habit, community activism or social injustice cause. Some very big things need changing right now and its hard to know where to start.
My job demands that I begin at specific times. I must start. I can’t sit at the front of a room, blinking at people on their yoga mats, and say “I don’t know where to begin”. I’ve learned to take a breath (or many), and start.
I’ve also been practicing Beginners Mind for a while. Beginners Mind is an attitude. Its a form of acceptance – seeing things for what they are, as they are - sometimes with awe and wonder and sometimes with fear and uncertainty. Its about beginning - where you are, with what you have - again and again.
One of the Yoga “how-to books”, Patanjali’s Sutra 1:1, starts with the word Atha. Which can mean ’here’ or ‘now’. Atha yoga anushasanam - Now is time to begin. It doesn’t say how. It just says “now”. Its guiding us. Be here. Right now. Start here. Start Now.
This time of year there is always a lot of chatter about beginnings. But this year feels different. DUH! I’m not the only one writing about how, when or ways to start. People I really respect have been writing great things about their own experiences with starting.
Maryl Baldridge’s Where to Begin
Coincidentally, I just read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and at the perfect time, came across this passage.
“You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness or even despair - the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly.
Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.
I’m not asking you to come reverently or unquestioningly; I’m not asking you to be politically correct or put aside your sense of humor (please G-d have one). This isn’t a popularity contest, its not the moral Olympics, and its not church. But it’s writing, damn it.........”
I found the poem at the top of the page in one of the most auspicious places to find spiritual guidance – my Instagram feed. Thank you Wendy Whelan for posting. Thank you Ijeoma Umebinyuo - for putting your thoughts and words in such pristine order. Its so good, I’ll say it again….
Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just... start.