Funny how we tend to think of "firsts" as a youth phenom, but in actuality the sequence of them continue throughout our whole lives. First time offerings spring forward if we are open to and allow them to take a breath. I was reading something the other day about how fear is far greater in the suffering of unease as we stew in the choice of taking a step into the unknown...... to try something new.
This is when we tend to feel the most alone. But, when we finally make the decision to attempt a new step, to try something for the first time, we find that we are not alone anymore. There is a sense of encouragement in the air all around. There is a momentum filled with the dreams of others who have gone ahead and foraged through the unknown already. Destiny conspires to help us, boosting our energy, shaping our focus, alleviating the fear of traisping through the tall grasses that may lead us to a place of new awareness......... new possibilities.
It's always so difficult to get started. We waste so much fret time posturing, ruminating, moaning and groaning over our decisions. Maybe this is what is different between the "firsts" we encountered as young children and now as adults. As grown ups, we think too much. We talk ourselves into staying within the bubble of illusions, convincing ourselves that we're fine in this life of contentment. Better to stay with the realm of what you know than what you don't know...... Our fear driven feelings consume us!
Sometimes, we don't hear the knock of opportunity. So often they are such faint taps of enlightenment that go unnoticed because we are surrounded by the noisy multi-sensory cacophany of our worlds. Last night for example, while sitting waiting for the movie to start in the theatre, we were inudated with a barrage of commercials and graphic dimensions on the screen. The sound was loud. The atmosphere was so far removed from the calm anticipation which once accompanied "going to the movies..."
Remember when you would arrive into a dimly lit screening room even before the music was filtered in as the indication that the curtain was about to rise and the event was about to begin? It was one of those rare opportunities to reflect, to look forward, to be "in the moment" with a friend or a date. It gave you a chance to "catch up" with a friend, or to sit quietly enjoying the peace. Why is our whole world conspiring against us to keep us away from those very important moments of silence?
We allow it to happen. We flow into the noise instead of walking away from it. It's an avoidance technique. Better to stay busy, be in the flurried eye of the multi-sensory flashing light whizz blur of a life than to be alone to experience clarity. Clarity is SCARY! Or so we think. Let me suggest that clarity is the beginning and getting to the beginning of a "new first" is half the battle. You're over the worst part of the fear! Have you ever felt that sense of relief once you got started after procrastinating forever over making a decision??
Obviously we need to seek out those moments when opportunity taps quietly. We need a chance to convince ourselves that it is time to take a step into a foray of a first. We need the time to contemplate our next move, a new idea, to weigh the pros and cons of sticking our necks out into a place where we are stretched. This is renewal. This is where "firsts" dwell waiting to be plucked and tried. Beginnings are not empty or isolated. They are covered in sweetgreen aromatic growth, like the softness of new grass underfoot..... that is how a new beginning can feel once you've taken the first step off the concrete sidewalk.
Sure, many "firsts" are foisted upon us when we arent ready. Forced to reckon with it as a trauma, we find ourselves ill-equipped to handle the change. They can also derail us away from the clouddreams our Destiny floats upon. Challenges, obstacles, hurts and heartwounds.......circumstances we have no control over slam us back from the starting line....... sometimes so often we lose sight of our yearnings. This is when stillness and silence are the most crucial because it allows us the time to breathe, to heal, to learn from the sufferings. This is where we are given a chance to gather strength and determination to grab hold of that new beginning. The uncontrollable kicks to the gut? Do you think they can be the very thing we need to recognize the need to take a step out of the cocoon?
Epiphanies are a combination of crisis and clarity. They are little openings between the storm clouds that seem to occur when we are empty inside but our eyes are opened wide. Maybe our best first steps happen when we are on our knees rather than standing in the ready stance waiting for the race to begin?
Firsts.....steps. You can't always wait for the "right time" to come around. You sometimes just have to take that big leap knowing that when you land, you are over the worst of it...... You sometimes have to hold that baseball bat with patience as you wait for the ball to be pitched over home plate. It may not be the kind of pitch you anticipate nor particularly want. But, if its a strike, you gotta swing........ and connect with that ball. Then, you drop that bat and run like a crazy person to first base with everyone cheering you on. From there? You're in the game. The view from first base is always, always hopeful!
May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.
May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
John O'Donohue, A Morning Offering
Bless this Space Between Us.