“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien,
“Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.” Remember that line from the movie Men in Black where Will Smith’s character warns his alien foe not to do anything stupid? However, as per my usual MO, I’ve adopted a different take on that statement.
If you don’t start anything, there won’t be anything. No, I’m not talking about the grammatical correctness of the sentence, but what it means. If we don’t attempt anything, we won’t achieve anything. Starting something, anything, can be a challenging, overwhelming and intimidating task. It can stop us dead in our tracks before we even begin all because it appears to be some hippopotamic obstacle staring us down.
Take this blog, for instance. I debated starting it for a few years…years…before doing it. To begin with, I’m an over-thinker… and a perfectionist. Terrible combination. I have a tendency to overthink situations and then expect the outcomes to be nothing less than, well…perfect. As a result, I have talked myself out of more things than I can remember for fear of presumed disasters, failures or regrets, like this blog.
Not only that, I wasn’t exactly sure my writings would be of any interest; that I had anything of consequence to say. Even now as I write, I have no idea who’s going to read this or if anyone will like it. But if I’m going to be honest with myself, I cannot and should not let that be my motivation. Don’t get me wrong, I want my blog to be read by readers, lots of readers, and for those readers… you, as a matter of fact… to find my writings helpful, encouraging and inspiring. But if I’m going to be true to myself, I have to put all that aside and act on my passion for writing. Not writing for fear of being inconsequential would only mean denying myself. Here’s why.
Words are like breaths to me. Oxygen. They have power, influence, and strength. And writing is the act of breathing. It’s empowering. My writing, however, can’t be about garnering attention or pandering to an audience for the sake of said attention or audience. Writing has to be about me acknowledging myself; about me taking a deep breath and exhaling; about me letting my words, my thoughts, become real. Otherwise, it would be like holding my breath all the time. And then I would turn blue. And then I would pass out. And then…well, you get the idea. This blog allows me to breathe.
Don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.
Not starting something is safe; it’s careful; it’s a sure thing. It’s only toeing the water but never jumping in. Oh sure, not starting something may mean never experiencing failure but it also may mean never experiencing success or accomplishments either. Never seeing things come to fruition. Never truly knowing your own strength, or your own resolve. Not starting something just means always nevering (yes, I made that up).
I’ve said it before, success is impossible without failure. No one gets things right straight out of the box. So what stops us from ever starting? Fear. Fear of the unknown; fear of a presumed disaster; fear of rejection. Name it, fear is all over it, like white on rice. Fear is a sure-fire “safety feature” that we all posses but unfortunately has a tendency to possess us, too. And it’s debilitating.
When we live in fear of starting, doing, or being, we grant that fear permission to take over our lives. To enslave us; control us; to make our decisions for us. Fear keeps us in a tiny, little box sitting on a shelf collecting dust because it’s safe, easy and manageable. Fear also sucks the life out of us; out of our dreams, hopes and aspirations. Fear can be a life sentence if we allow it.
I recently watched a mini-series about the Bronte sisters, To Walk Invisible. It chronicled their lives and how they struggled to become published writers. They had to write under pseudonyms for fear of being socially ostracized because they were women in a time when women were of little consequence.
Jane Austen (one of my favorite authors) also wrote pseudonymously, facing that same kind of social ridicule as she aspired to be an author. Yet these women did it! They started something. They wrote and wrote with passion. They dared to risk their dreams for the sake of that passion and they didn’t let fear stop them. They climbed out of the proverbial box and pursued their ambitions. They were transcendent. Now today, their books are celebrated as literary masterpieces and, they as inspirational heroines for modern women. And to think, if they had given into their fears, we would be deprived of their influences today.
Starting something means taking a step forward. Just one step and not waiting for the right circumstances to manifest first. Nope, starting something requires stepping out exactly from where you currently are without waiting for the right date and time, acquiring enough money, obtaining the winning lottery numbers, or having the stars and planets perfectly aligned. Starting something simply means daring to take a risk for the sake of our own liberation. Throwing caution to the wind, braving the unknown and discovering our courage.
Okay but what if we start something and it takes a wrong turn? What if it isn’t what we thought? What if all goes sideways? What if, what if, what if?
No journey, plan of action, or strategy can ever be set in stone if there is to be a successful outcome. We have to allow for course corrections. Course corrections are inevitable and necessary if we want to get where we’re going. I know I’m speaking for myself, though, when I say the idea of course corrections tends to look like some kind of cover-up for choosing a wrong path. As if to say I should have anticipated that particular path-treading faux pas but since I didn’t, game over. The end. Goodbye!
But course corrections are healthy. They are learning experiences. They help us recognize and avoid potential obstacles or pitfalls in the future while redirecting our focus as we adapt to new situations.
Starting something, however, comes with a cost. It requires self-discipline and self-determination. No one can elicit that for us. But it also comes with rewards. (Yay!) When we start something we learn, we discover, we create, we achieve, we transcend…we become. We become all that we weren’t before. Inspired. Strong. Determined. Proficient. Knowledgeable. Adventurous. Name it….
So how to go about starting something? I find making a list helps. There doesn’t have to have a rhyme or reason; it just needs to be something, anything, that sparks your interest. And then from there, start. Just one step. Here, I’ll go first: hiking, and photography. Hmm…these could go together nicely come to think of it. I enjoy the outdoors and I love taking pictures. Actually I’m considering starting (there’s that word) a photo journal. And just to sort of kick things off, I’ve included some of my photos in this post. So now all I need to do is get out there, go hiking and shoot some more pics!
Okay, now you. Start something. Go towards something. Inspire something. Create something. Determine something. Achieve something. Become something.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. – Proverbs 23:18
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9