Begin Again is the title of a movie that my husband turned me on to. The main character, a producer in the music business has many reversals in his life like a failed marriage and stagnating career. As the movie evolves, we see him pushing forward and drawing from his past success to bolster his future. There is reinvention regeneration of spirit. He begins again and againIt was a good flick. So, what’s this got to do with writing or even yoga? Begin and Again. In both your writing ambitions and your yoga practice, each day is a beginning.
Aristotle stated that ” . . . the beginning is thought to be more than half of the whole, and many of the questions we ask are cleared up by it.” Basically, the best most focused start is the most promising for desired outcomes. If something goes awry, look to the pattern of events that led up to the road block. How did you begin? How did you set up or clear your space? Maybe you did not have everything you needed, including the focus, so your pages are not so inspired or your poses were a struggle to maintain. We all have to begin each day when we wake up up even if the projects or poses are part of an ongoing ambition or enjoyable habit.
The “again” part is a bit more complicated. Each day can be an “again” in a positive light or an “again” as in “ugh.” Returning and beginning again can be synonymous but quite a big difference also. In writing, the starting over can be so frustrating. You may have scrapped something that was not working out and are feeling zapped of the will to try again. But, like the character in the movie, if you love what you do and want to stay in the business/genre that you chose, you’ll unload or shelve what you have to and bulldoze past any naysayers to see your vision become a reality.
My yoga practice and my riding both create a focus for me that I don’t find coming from anything else. For both of these my beginning has to include being fully present or there is no flow or forward movement literally or figuratively. My poses are stiffer. If the horse lacks clear communication and relies on himself to decide how to respond to my aids, any effort is lost energy and potential. It only makes sense that if I sit down to write, I need to have a plan. Even a plan to free write so that I can let the words come out. I can edit and adjust later but I need to begin, and begin with purpose.
Thus we begin again and again. But and it needs to be in the spirit of learning and endeavor, not frustration. So beginings are new, they are do overs ,they are retracing of steps ,they are clean slates. They are framed by your past behavior and generate results based on your focus or lack thereof. There are “agains” in everything so let the again be a revisiing of an effort you’d like to see more sucess from. Don’t let it become a state of repetition and stagnation.
One day this past winter, as I sat on my mat trying to settle in and bring my focus inside both the room and my practice, I was pulled away by an almost ghostly rattling at the front of the room. The vibrations emanated from large wooden double doors and their glass panels. The wind would not agree to stay outside and rushed all the man-made barriers trying to ambush a weak spot in the meeting of the panes or turn the knobs with icy gusts. The members of my yoga class understandably had the inclination to comment on the brusqueness of the day, but I noticed something else. The large tree just beyond these doors alone on the winter-scoured sidewalk of Main St. stood impossibly solid and motionless. Even its thick branches were unmoved by the violence of the wind. It was only the racket and the severity of the day that earned merit from the group, but I was in awe of this brown/grey sentinel.
How I wanted to be that tree. In the protected inside of the building I felt vulnerable and threatened by the assault on the doors. I still thought the shaking was an invisible hand of a lost spirit insisting that the living let it in to rest or thwart our peace until it could find its own. I wanted to be able to remain still and unmoved when the world buffets my resolve or when my body fails me in health or my practice. Each shake of the door pulled my gaze and awareness back to the tree.
I fell in love with it as if it were a guardian set to hold all invaders until I was done and ready to face the outside world. It was there with me, for me. No siege could shake its resolve. That I could balance in my own tree pose in the stillness of the room as well as this wondrous wood resisted the wind. From its roots to its height, there was strength. I longed for that base, a foundation that would run deep and wide enough to secure me. I thought about its goal, to grow and to thrive. I have set myself so many more goals and they did not all build on each other. They did not have the same seeds nor the same urgency. How does one grow upward when pulled sideways and enduring bouts of drought and flood? This tree’s surety of purpose and ability to hold strong came from its adherence to its goal. Perhaps if I were to narrow my own idea of destiny I would not bend in the wind so much or fear the spirit so violently urging the door open.
In retrospect, I must ask: Is it that the tree was so still and immovable that impressed me or was it that I am not? Did I not see its vulnerability in that moment and let it magnify my doubts? Perhaps the tree’s resistance will be its undoing and a fracturing beyond repair will insinuate itself to the core and transform my diligent protector into shards of splinters. So far, though, so good. The tree stood tall and the wind did not relent, I completed my practice, and the day continued on.
As of today, a brisk and beautiful spring day, the tree still stands. There are no splinters yet. It is still valiant and strong. I am still bent into the wind but on my feet. We will see who lasts the longest. I do hope, though, that we both endure many more years and changes together.