I swore to myself that I wouldn’t write something about New Years, resolutions, change, etc. But this word “beginnings” is on my mind for a couple reasons. One, I am teaching a Human Development course at the University of British Columbia and I’ve titled the first class, “Beginnings” to both address the beginning of the course, as well as the beginning of development. Second, it is on my mind because I just started running this morning. What do we do with beginnings? How are they important, and how are they meaningless?
Beginnings are important because at some point we actually have to take a step forward and begin. Waiting around for complete inspiration is not always going to happen and beginning sometimes gives birth to inspiration. I often say to my clients wanting to change something addicting or troublesome, “you have to change to change.” It sounds silly, but it’s actually quite profound when many people hope that they WANT to change. We are almost always ambivalent about the things we struggle changing. There is always some payoff and that means we are not going to fully want to change. So we need to begin. We need to take a step. Many times that step gives birth to unexpected aspects of the self, and unexpected directions.
This takes me to the meaningless part. It’s as though the development instigated by beginning is only given meaning by what ensues. If I “begin” my running but don’t go much further than today or a couple attempts, nothing has really begun. A one time change or one time attempt, is meaningless unless it is followed up by continuing on that path. The more path that is worn, the more momentum, and the more meaning arises in one’s life given the challenges and experiences of continuing down a path. It’s not that we cannot change our mind, but if we don’t go far enough down the path we won’t have a very good sense of assessing our decision and experience.
I hope I can continue running. I hate it. I haven’t run on a regular basis in a long time. I used to play university soccer and was in very good shape but I’ve always hated running. I like the idea of running. I am very out of shape and that was made very clear on this brisk morning as I didn’t run far but had to stop and walk several times. My beginning was a beginning, but a huge part of me wants to just say forget it, I should do something else to exercise, maybe running just isn’t my thing. That might be true, but have I given running a chance? Obviously the first time running in a long time after I’ve gained some weight and continue getting older with little exercise, is going to be hard. It’s going to suck for days until that process eventually brings me some benefit and I’ve worn more of a path to find meaning within. It will be humbling for me to let you all know in three weeks that I’ve quit running, but let’s hope not. Maybe outing myself in public will help me stay committed and keep me accountable.
If you do find the New Year a time of beginnings, remember that the actual beginning is meaningless until the process has become more solidified.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.