I like to get up early in the morning; the stillness is contagious and fills me with optimism. Everything feels so possible. The first thing I do before anyone else gets up, before eating breakfast, before opening email accounts or checking social media, is write a short stream of consciousness, the first thing that comes to mind and an affirmation to go with it. It sets an intention for my day. Then I post the same thought to Facebook and the Soulseeds website and get on with the next thing. It’s my early morning ritual. On the rare occasion that I sleep late, it feels like the day never begins properly, I never catch up and feel out of sorts.
One of the most exciting features of new beginnings is that you have the opportunity to set the tone for all that follows. Your first thoughts set the tone for your intentions. The first words spoken set the tone for a whole conversation. Your first actions set the tone for the rest of your day. All these firsts and more are like the candles and soft music that set the tone for romance, or the incense and soft lighting that sets the tone for relaxation. Mood, intention and tone.
Sue Monk Kidd sets the tone for her book The Secret Life of Bees with these opening words,
And when you get down to it, Lily, that is the only purpose grand enough for a human life. Not just to love but to persist in love.
Imagine if we all set the intention to love, not just when it suits us, not just when it feels good, but to persist in love throughout the days and years of our lives. Imagine the tone we would set for the world. There would be a love revolution. Imagine what we would achieve. I read an interview with Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple. He was asked what he liked best about working at Apple in the early days. He said,
Back then it was so exciting. Everything we did we were setting the tone for the world. We were the computer to have in your home. Any project you worked on had value. Today, if you work on 10 different things, one of them might have value.
We can safely say that Apple started out putting their best foot forward and the rest is history. That’s another expression we use for setting the tone of a beginning- starting out on the right foot or putting your best foot forward. That phrase always brings to my mind the orders of my high school football coaches. Always line up with your outside foot set resolutely forward, ready to move straight ahead. It was partly a body language issue. You faced back towards the action, setting a tone and sending a message. As Shakespeare said in King John, “Make haste; the better foot before.”
New beginnings are a privilege, and not to be taken for granted. The opportunity to start over, start new, rewrite the script, build something from the ground up, set the tone for an intention, are all part of the forgiving nature of the universe. Second, third and seven hundredth chances are built into the nature of life. When you truly believe that, you can set about living on purpose and without regrets. You are not alive at this time in history with your unique blend of experience and skill by accident. You are not reading this article at this time in your life by accident. There are things that you still need to express and manifest in the world, and your next thoughts, words and actions will set the tone for the rest of your life and help to create the future for all. Your kindred spirits are others who believe in second chances and fresh starts, and live their lives putting their best foot forward. Imagine the love revolution if more of us lived this way.
Just because you set out with awesome intention, and putting your best foot forward, doesn’t mean you get it right every time. That’s fine. The certainty of imperfection won’t prevent you from moving forward with intention. You will start over as many times as you need to.
New beginnings are an awesome opportunity for renewed authenticity. Even the nervous energy is a gift to channel your best and most urgent efforts. The ground floor is where it all begins, and where you intend to jump in and set the tone for all that follows. Set your best foot forward, and the other is sure to follow.
I will end this series on new beginnings with an inspiration from the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Benjamin grows up backwards; beginning his life as an old man and ending up as a baby. He grows younger with each passing moment. There is a joke that if it had won best picture at the Academy Awards, the Oscar would have been given out at the beginning of the night instead of the end when they normally hand out best picture. My favorite scene in the movie is when his daughter reads a letter Benjamin wrote to her, having never met her father.
For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.