Friday, August 15, 2008

The miracle of courage: getting started

“The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”

- John “The Penguin” Bingham

I was visiting another blog for the first time this week and the above quote was left in comments. I was introduced to the wit and wisdom of John Bingham through his regular feature “The Penguin Chronicles” in Runners’ World magazine at least 10 years ago. (No, I’m not a runner my boys did track and cross country.) His tagline quote always resonated with me but I never had a specific “start” that I associated with the sentiment.

Reading the quote anew after having forgotten about it for at least the past 6 years, maybe longer, a short list of things I had gathered enough courage to start (and a few even finished) began popping up over the past day. In light of my previous posts over the past two weeks of things not started, never finished which was a tad on the uncomfortable side to be transparent about; these little gems had me smiling.

One of the brick walls people who are trying to change life tracks run into is starting. They often have a desire, maybe a goal or destination, and sometimes they have a full blown benchmarked strategy to make their change happen. But, they can’t quite seem to get started. Picking up that first foot and setting it down a few inches in front of the other one is unbelievably difficult. Sometimes it’s a voice (real or imagined) that whispers either “what do you think you’re doing” or “who do you think you are.” Sometimes things come up that push starting to the backburner for ostensibly practical reasons.

But for some people there is not some one-time event that derails their attempt to start their new program. Those individuals are good talkers but not good walkers. They latch onto calls to give away their time and energy to another cause again and again, all the while bemoaning that they are never going to become their new self. To be fair, sometimes we can be so buried in a life ideology that we can’t get a reality check from ground-level. Sometimes the lack of perspective is skewed by other voices which are louder or at least more emphatic. For some though there is a resistance to being open to the idea that things are not as one believes they are, and in those cases there will be no starting (no change) until they become receptive to external information about the situation.

So now that we’ve dissected some reasons why it’s hard to start and why it takes courage to start let’s talk about some things we’ve started that definitely took courage.

My list:

- Untangling a mystery from the past

- Contacting old acquaintances (and some I still communicate with after 6 years)

- Returning to university (and finishing my BA)

- Went on a silent retreat even though I wouldn’t know another soul there

- Started a blog (and we’re still here)

- Writing a weekly community column for the paper

- NaNoWriMo

Do you have something that took courage to start but you did it anyway? Share in comments or write your own post.

The Series:

1. Mommy tracking

1a. Exit strategy

2. Dreams

3. Net worth

4. Women and Self caretaking

5. Second-life Woman

6. Journals, Journaling and the Journey

7. Not started; or just never finished


Margaret Cloud said...

You know it took courage to get on this computer and learn the ropes, my son Doug gave this whole set to me so I would have something to do, now I know somethings and am not scared anymore. Just stopping by to say Hi.

G's Cottage said...

I know Margaret. You have every reason to be proud of yourself. You are now free to explore the world and it will come to you.

Melissa Donovan said...

One thing I've done that took courage was stick to running my own business, even though sometimes I wasn't even making enough money to get by. Now, I'm getting ready to launch a fresh new website for my business in September and that's going to take even more courage. I really admire what you've done Deb :)

Sylvia C. said...

Congrats on having so much courage, Deb!

I would say my biggest "leap of faith" has been recently, deciding to ride the roller coaster of pregnancy and soon motherhood.

Nothing has been so exciting or heart-racing as this.

Thanks for your kind comment at my blog!


Sylvia C.

Jenny said...

This post came to me at a great time. I just recently finished something that I had the courage to start. I did a bike-a-thon and rode 36 miles! I had my doubts that I would actually do it, but I kept going and got through with it. I'm hoping it was a launch pad to other things I want to start doing!


G's Cottage said...

@Melissa - Thank you. And I so admire how much you have grown your business. I think one the hardest things to do is reinvent something that was working okay but familiar into a better form but unfamiliar. That is scary stuff.

@Sylvia - I think (having had and raised four of my own) that there is nothing so courageous as stepping out and saying I am trusting the future with my child.

@Jenny - Hi, thanks for visiting. It was in your comments where I saw the quote again. I meant to link to you but in my sleep-deprived haze I seem to have missed it. I think once you start experiencing more courageous risks you will find a whole you with whom you have been unacquainted previously. You might like to read my post Ski lessons and life training

G's Cottage said...

@Jenny - That link doesn't work (grr html) it was posted on Dec. 18, 2007.