12/50: BEGIN IT NOW
“And suddenly you know: it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.” (Meister Eckhart)
Begin (verb): perform or undergo the first part of an action or activity.
As governments around the world begin to introduce measures to ease lockdown, I’m struck by the fact that the end of this prolonged quarantine period will mark a brand new beginning for every one of us: that is, the beginning of the phase that has been referred to as “the new normal”, when the Universal Pause Button gets lifted. And sure, there may be a second surge of infection and another lockdown may be required at some point in the near future, but right now we are standing at the edge of a new dawn: Life After Lockdown.
And it must be clear to everyone that it’s not just our national life that is going to undergo a bold new beginning. The sound of that page turning should not be allowed to drown out the fact that each and every one of us will also turn a new page and move in to the next chapter of our own personal lives. Of course, that was always the case, as it is every single day of every single year, but this time it’s different because this time we can actually feel it happening. The world has changed over the past few weeks and we’re not the same people we were before Lockdown. For many people the time in isolation has been challenging and difficult, for some it has been a blessed relief, but for everyone it has been an opportunity to stand stock still and to reflect on our lives in a way that is usually not possible. For many of us this will have been the first time in years that we will have had the chance to think long and hard about our lives, what we love about them, what we hate, what we want to stop doing, what we want to keep doing, whether we wish to stay in our current jobs or relationships or move on from them to unexplored territory. This is our moment to reinvent everything. A one-time opportunity to re-boot the entire system. And for the first time in history, no one you know is going to think you’re crazy if you decide to skip over the traces.
But before we start issuing new bucket lists, let’s reflect a little bit on the enormity of what’s happening here. For example, let’s just take a minute to acknowledge our own choices in everything that has gone before, and therefore also, in all that is to come. Each one of us is responsible for creating every single aspect of our experience up to this point in our lives. (I know that that’s uncomfortable for many people, and I struggle with it myself every day. But with every day that passes, I am also more and more convinced that it’s the absolutely truth. Our choices create our lives. They don’t just happen to us.) But even if you can’t bring yourself to agree with me on that point, you might be able to see that even if the first thing we do on the first day after Lockdown ends is exactly what we did on the last day before it started, the prolonged period of inactivity and reflection we’ve all been through must mean that that will not be a choice by default, it will be an active choice; it will be something that we really want to do. Even if it is a schedule or routine which remains unaltered from ‘before’ and therefore requires no effort, our continuation of it will mean that we have elected to take it up once more. There are no accidents now.
We will all be choosing to start anew.
When you think about it, that’s really quite exciting. After all, there is nothing more powerful than a beginning. And we all now have a shot at a beginning of potentially huge clarity. We have all been given as close to a ten-thousand-foot-view of our own lives as possible. A whole new perspective, a totally realigned set of priorities. And now, a small spark of light fixes in your mind in a certain way, a synapse in your brain fires up and before you know it, a brand new concept or idea has begun to gestate in your mind. Suddenly it’s gathering moss like the proverbial stone as it rolls downhill, until the point where its own momentum simply forces you to take action! From that point on the whole endeavour is engrained with that momentum, your innate enthusiasm of the venture. And those moments, when the beginning has only just begun, such moments are packed with enormous, life-changing potential. The entire universe is about to change based on a small seed of an idea which we most-likely nurtured into being accidentally while our imagination was let loose for an unguarded moment. But it’s happened now and events are underway.
The 19th century German writer, Goethe said, “Be bold, and mighty forces shall come to your aid.” It’s a statement of fearless ambitions and steadfast intention. When I hear the words I imagine an intrepid explorer stepping off a landing craft and planting the first footprint on an unknown shoreline. And just like that explorer, this is the moment you have to make your mark and make it boldly.
But enough guff from me and Meister Eckhart and Goethe. Let’s talk about your new beginning. What are you going to do? Where do you want to go? How do you want to get there? And who do
you want by your side on your journey?
Every question throws up not only answers but yet more questions, for while a new beginning is an amazing opportunity to wipe clean the mistakes of the past and to re-frame our lives as we wish them to be, that very notion can also be scary. For example, there is a lot about my life that I really love. If I rock the boat, will I change everything, even the stuff I love? Maybe, but what if rocking the boat makes everything much better than I can even conceive? And since the only constant in life is change then hadn’t I better accept the inevitable and push on?
The spiritual writer (not another one!), Anthony de Mello said that all change is fundamentally for the better. Take a deep breath and say that line to yourself again. What’s he’s saying is that even if it is shocking, traumatic and dangerous, all change is good. When I first read that I thought it was shockingly insensitive but with age, I am starting to see it differently. I can’t fight change and neither can you so we may as well believe that it is for the best.
So, where is all this leading? Well, I think it’s leading to this: we are all on the cusp of the biggest and most life-changing opportunity for change we are ever likely to see. The universe has conspired to hold us all in time and space and give us the chance to reflect on our lives up to now and to consider how we want to live from this point on. We are all being given a free kick, a chance to make change or else to acknowledge our choices and affirm our acceptance of them.
It’s a brave new world for everyone but most importantly for you. Use it wisely. Be well, stay well.