Learning to begin again (and again… and again)


I admire the beauty of mastery greatly. Whether it be watching Gordon Ramsay fillet a salmon, or Michael Phelps swim, or Mikhail Baryshnikov defy gravity on the stage, or listening to Yo-Yo Ma play the haunting scores of Ennio Morricone, I love to witness mastery in motion. I don’t particularly enjoy watching the fumbling attempts of beginners and let’s not even mention the pain of having to endure listening to music that is less than harmonious. In my own life, I don’t like to appear gauche or ignorant or incapable. I much prefer to be in situations where I am in control and even better – where I have mastery. THIS is my handicap in the spiritual life:  I hate the awkward, painful, fumbling phase of beginnings, and the paradox of the spiritual life is that growth lies in being able to start at the beginning again, and again, and again.

Yet that is exactly what I am now called to master! I am being trained to excel at beginning again; to learn to accept defeat with a laugh, humiliation with a smile, and to rediscover the child-like delight of knocking things over and starting again. I am slowly unlearning the fear of being judged. I am gradually starting to enjoy the entire process of re-discovering who I am through my successes as well as (and even more so) my failures.

I am discovering how liberating it is to be able to say without shame, “I don’t know.” Or to admit to myself that there are many important and good things that I do not care about. I have improved in not constantly wondering if something is wrong with me when I do not respond in the way that I had been trained to, but instead to be thankful for this new ability to just be myself.

I have found that if I were to take care of my health, I am a lot slower than I would like to be, and that I cannot multi-task. I have learned that I can try either to please others or to live authentically and do only that which I am convicted I am called to do. I am constantly discovering that I am really much earlier in the journey than I had thought I was, or than I would have liked to be. Slowly, yet surely, there are fewer and fewer expectations I have of myself because I am learning to love who I am instead of striving to be who I think I should be.

So it is that I keep finding myself at the beginning again even though it feels like I have already been walking for so long. But I am starting to enjoy finding myself at the beginning again because each time I start again, I find myself a little lighter, a little more joyful, and a lot more free!


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