Back to the Beginning Again

Do you ever get tired of going around in circles?
Do you ever get tired of going around in circles?

The thought of starting on a journey when I just landed from the last one is exhausting. That is how I feel about the New Year, all New Years.

So I fight the temptation to make resolutions, even though that’s the topic of the day.

I don’t want to be beginning. I want instead to find myself somewhere in the middle, having already done or said or tried what I wanted, and making the necessary adjustments.

But how can I approach a new year, my hand on the door knob of a fresh start and not pause to imagine what it could hold?

Maybe that’s what is wrong with resolutions. I think I can fill a room that hasn’t been built yet, a room that exists only as a closed door today.

Of course there are things I want to do, to become, as the days click open and shut again in a series.

Isn’t the beginning where the wind was at my back, where I was propelled, I was moving? I was not yet fooled into believing I couldn’t. I just did, because I didn’t care if I couldn’t, I knew what I could do was try. Maybe the beginning isn’t so bad.

Somewhere last year I forgot that God’s mercies are new every morning, and I began carrying with me into each day the weight of the old. I wore the weight like the train of a dress, dragging heavy behind me the unmet expectations, letting them follow me, letting them hold me back.

As much as 1-1 doesn’t have to mean a new beginning, it also doesn’t mean I can’t start here. I’ll start now because it is today, and today is the day I decided to start.

I’ll start now because it is today, and today is the day I decided to start.

Tomorrow I might have to say it again, and again in February, and probably August, and maybe October.

Recently I read of goals that they should move you toward something, rather than away. I get that. It’s easier to walk, run– or even stumble– forward. But there are things I want to leave on the floor behind me as I go.

So I’m making lists, plans, concrete action steps and all that is suggested by people who seem to have a clue.

But for resolutions I’m sticking to words I’m borrowing from others, words that ring through me over and over and leave me thinking I want that.

Zora Neale Thurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God is a book of beginnings, over and over, beginnings. One of the first phrases I first took a pencil to, drawing as neatly as I could a faint line underneath, states the phenomenon of beginning again with the scars of experience.

“Her old thoughts were going to come in handy now,” Thurston writes, “but new words would have to be made and said to fit them.”

I remember a time not so long ago when I stood in the snow in my backyard, stood still and watched it fall, because I was tired of watching what I loved from the window. (Singing in the Dead of Night) It gave me fuel, something to write about, something to remember.

What I want to see when this year closes, 365 days from right now, is this, borrowed from Ms. Thurston, and recorded here to remind myself of what it is I really want:

She pulled in her horizon like a great fish-net. Pulled it from around the waist of the world and draped it over her shoulder. So much of life teeming in its meshes! She called in her soul to come and see.

(Their Eyes Were Watching God, chapter 20)

Last year the meshes of my life’s great net, cast out on a whim, filled and teemed with the wriggling and splashing of full days and fiery nights. I froze somehow under the weight of it. Froze and forgot to let my soul look, let my fingers dig in to the texture of it all. I achieved the Great Goal of draft one and the rest of my Great Plan drifted down around me. I watched it fall and didn’t bother to reach out and catch it.

Goals and plans mean so little if you forget to look at what life is building around you, if you’re trying to build your days on what you’ve planned alone.

My second resolution is included in the song I’ve linked at the bottom, and it speaks to the first. If I forget to let my soul have its look, I’ll take myself to “the mountain road where time unwinds” when I find myself “busy living in a single file line.” (“Back to the Beginning Again” by Switchfoot)

If I can manage these, I think I’ll be pleased.

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4 thoughts on “Back to the Beginning Again”

  1. Beautiful post, and Thurston quotes. I think you make such an important point about the futility of making resolutions or goals without considering how the other people in our lives will figure into the success or meaningfulness of those goals.

    One funny aside: My husband and I were talking about our New Year’s resolutions, and they were the typical lofty, big picture resolutions that people make. Then we asked our son. His resolution? To beat the level of the Pokemon game he was in the middle of playing. 🙂

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