I find starting anything so ridiculously difficult. The middle? Easy, as I’m generally too stubborn to give up, even stop if its not working. As far as the end? I might not put the tidiest bow on whatever it is, but at least its easier than having to start.
About a year ago, my wife Alisha and I put our life in Sydney on hold and set out for the USA to road trip around the country for 6 months. It was really the most, well, I’m going to stop there as there are really no words that would give any sort of true reflection on not just the experience, but exactly what that trip did on so many levels… That might require a few more posts.
We knew this–what would come to be known as Starkbatical–was the right thing to do and leading up to it, everything just fell into place. We both had jobs to come back to. We were able to sublet our house for 5 months and 3 weeks out of the total 6 month trip. But more than that, we had peace. Not just peace because we knew what to do, but this complete peace knowing we were actually doing it. At least up until we packed up the car and headed out.
Our first drive was a big one (about 11 hours) and about 9 hours into it, I started to freak out. This was actually happening… We were literally about to start in the middle of the US, drive up through Yellowstone, then into Canada, across the Rockies to Vancouver, down the West Coast and back through the desert. Sounds awesome, yeah, up until the “what if’s” started flooding through my mind. What if our accommodation was a bust? What if we break down? What if we run out of money? I had just watched “No Country for Old Men” on the flight over and so now we were potential victims of a serial killer on some abandoned desert road…
It all got a little out of hand.
Truth is, none of that happened. 35,000 kilometres of driving and nothing lost, nothing stolen, no flat tyres, no breakdowns, and we weren’t brutally murdered. Nailed it. But I didn’t know any of this would be our reality when we left and I also didn’t know that the list of what if’s were a guarantee either. All I knew is that we had to start. We had a plan, but we were willing to change. We had the means, but we were willing to make the most of whatever we found ourselves with. We had expectations, but we were willing to throw them out the window.
I don’t regard myself as a writer, but lately, there has been this voice inside of me that has been saying “stop being so self absorbed and write again.” This might seem cut and dry, but then again, “what if?” There are maybe one or two good reasons to write, but a million reasons why not to. What if I don’t make sense? What if I’m actually really horrible at it? What if what I have to say means very little and only really serves as irrelevant noise?
I just want to punch myself already for being dumb.
I don’t know whether or not anything I have to say will really matter, but then I don’t know for certain that it won’t. I won’t know until I start.
Years, maybe decades from now, I will have some sort of inkling as to whether or not I was on the right track, but the only certainty I know at this point is what will happen if I do nothing.
I think this is life. We know very little about how things will work out other than knowing we need to start.
I have learned that with the feeling of complete peace, I become stuck in this tension between that peace and a whole lot of “what the hell am I getting myself into.” But then, that’s good. I have found it’s in that tension where trust is born; walking that tension of knowing and not knowing all at the same time. Knowing what we need to do and doing it brings a sense of peace, but that doesn’t mean starting out won’t be accompanied by a million what if’s, poised ready to hit you with every possible outcome. But how will you know any of it for sure if you never start, right?
What are you waiting for? Start something.