I was once given some advice about public speaking and I’m sure the same applies to writing. Have an interesting beginning and a punchy conclusion, and make the distance between them as short as possible. So without any ado, let’s get it started and talk about beginnings. Like all topics, new beginnings is a topic that has a beginning, a middle and an end. I will start at the beginning, with beginning well, then the middle is about how to channel nervous beginning energy, the excitement of getting in at the ground floor of change and end by using your beginning to set the tone for all that is still to come.
Beginning WELL is crucial; like breakfast, first impressions and the opening lines in a novel.
What are your favorite opening lines? A few that make me smile include-
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina
There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. CS Lewis in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
My all time favorite opening line was in the book called “Such is Life” by Tom Collins, an Australian author. The book title is imprinted on my brain. It seemed to jump off my parents’ book shelf every time I looked in that direction while growing up. I would open it from time to time because I was so baffled and intrigued by the opening lines. It started like this-
Unemployed at last!
Unemployed at last! Without for a second making light the devastation of being unemployed for some people, I suspect these words were intended to celebrate the experience of liberty. Beginnings are full of freedom, shedding the burdens of the past and starting with a clean slate. No matter what your life situation, there is freedom in beginnings. If you have come out of a toxic relationship, “Single at last!” might express your feeling of freedom. If you have found romance after a long period of loneliness, “Together at last!” might say it all. If you’re tired and jaded from being suppressed or censored in the corporate or academic world and are now setting out as a contractor or freelancer, “Independent at last!” might do it. If you are resolving an unsustainable financial situation, “Out of debt, at last!” might capture your feeling.
It’s amazing how many people find a new lease on life when they retire, leave their jobs to freelance, sell large homes to reduce debt, or downsize their lives in any number of ways. The world depends on the free spirited honesty of authors, academics, artists, bloggers and independent spiritual communities to stir things up, and question the status quo in a world that usually operates on auto pilot. They (we) are not always right. But the very act of pushing the envelope and being willing to experiment, even change our views along the way, is healthy for progress. It starts conversations and keeps free thought alive.
Beginnings are a time to shake up your own assumptions, and others, and recommit to living with absolute authenticity. Materialism doesn’t bring as much satisfaction as you hope, familiarity doesn’t bring as much comfort as you expect, and security doesn’t bring as much peace of mind as you imagine. So set out, in tune with higher values like integrity and trust.
Beginnings carry enough boldness and adrenalin that you have a window of opportunity to shed some baggage from the past and stride forward with incredible purpose. Joseph Campbell said, “The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” No doubt he was referring to the snake shedding layers of skin because it has outgrown them. New beginnings usually arrive at a time when you have outgrown some old belief or relationship or life situation and it’s time to move on, lighter, unencumbered by yesterday’s baggage.
This is not to suggest that it’s easy. The snake loses its skin by rubbing against rocks and hard surfaces. Change is much the same. We often have to rub against something; another person, a nemesis, a rough edge of self judgment, a prickly challenge, rock bottom, to shed yesterday’s skin. It can hurt and it can leave scars.
French author Anatole France wrote,
All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind is part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter into another.
It can be painful, but the rewards in terms of fresh confidence and new possibility put all struggle into clear perspective. Unlike the snake who sheds an outer layer of skin, for humans it’s an inner layer of self protection that is shed. It’s an inner snake, like water moving through the end of a hose, wriggling with new life.
In Hindu mythology, the snake lies dormant at the base of the spine. This is the Kundalini energy, the potential for new beginnings within every one of us. Osho said, “Kundalini means your total potential, your total possibility.” When the kundalini energy awakens, it rises through the body like a snake, unblocking energy and releasing stored potential. It aligns all the energy in your body so that you become fully alive, aware and engaged, integrating body, mind and spirit in a melodic three-part chorus that has your feet moving, your heart beating fast and your vision soaring. The kundalini brings together the receptive energy and the active energy (yin and yang) in a powerful duet, conducted by intuitive awareness, that allows you to let go of the life that was holding you back and step into the life of your true calling. This is the power of new beginnings.