Again and again, Begin.
I'm a runner, but you don't have to be a runner to appreciate this.
At my first and only triathlon in 2011.
I remember when I started running (not too long ago), and how completing a 5K seemed nearly impossible. My husband and I began with a couch-to-5K program, incorporating walking with running, gradually increasing the running portions.
We elatedly completed a 5K.
I remember when, in an adrenaline-rush, we decided to go for a half marathon....which seemed equally insane and impossible. We began with running 3.1 miles, which we already knew how to do.
We joyously crossed the finish line at a half marathon.
That was a few years ago.
Since then, I've been on-and-off my running. Without constant training, my physical abilities have slipped. I am now back to running less than three miles, with another half marathon being a distant dream.
Every run, I have to begin again.
I have to begin the preparations, getting up early, getting my shoes on, a bit of water and often, a banana. It takes strength to begin those preparations.
I have to begin the run, which can be quite painful through tight muscles. It takes willingness to begin a faster pace after the warm-up walk.
I have to begin the hill, which notoriously wears me out. It is a long one, where I know I will be huffing and puffing at the end. It takes determination to begin running the hill and to make it to the top.
Every moment is one of beginning again.
There is momentum, of course. Half way through a run, it is much easier to keep going than it was when I was hunched over my coffee with sleep-drugged eyes. And the delicious feelings of vitality at the end of a run? The energy is enough to keep me going through many hours of my day.
But inevitably, I will hit points where I get off track of my desired path.
In those moments, I must let go of the habitual responses of dread or fear or laziness or complacency, take a deep breath, and make a conscious decision to begin with a step that will take me on the journey I desire.
This moment is a precious opportunity to begin. Again.
Whether you are deciding whether to run, to pick up a cookie or a carrot, to paint or to watch t.v., I invite you to reflect on the path of life you want to be on.
Begin on that path with this step.
When you find yourself doing something that is a temporary pleasure, but is harmful and off-path, be gentle with yourself. Acknowledge your choice. When you are ready, look at the steps you want to be taking, and begin again.
The beauty of this all is that it takes no special skills to begin. It might be challenging, but as with any practice, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So you practice beginning - beginning running, eating healthy, meditating, or perhaps waking up 5 minutes earlier each day. With each new beginning, other beginnings (and thus, their outcomes) become easier and more probable.
Beginnings allow us a valuable perspective, an openness to all possibilities. In beginning, we see the freshness of what is. Nothing is ever the same - relationships, a run, a painting, a meal. Through beginning, we open ourselves to the experience of what is instead of cluttering it with our expectations based off of what was.
So today, a mantra:
In this moment, I begin.
I'm off to begin my day.