Let’s remember the clichés about starting a journey, shall we?
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
“You never know until you try.”
“You have to start somewhere.”
“There’s no time like the present.”
In these quotes and others like them, we presume a person’s hesitation to make a change or begin a new journey. People can be very skilled in ignoring the signs or honoring their apprehension when they receive messages about starting a new journey. Whether it’s training for a marathon, anticipating a career change, learning about a new discipline, or acquiring a new skill, many of us are crippled by fear. What will I be risking if this doesn’t go according to plan? What happens if the vision never comes to fruition? Will I be able to go back in time and control+z (for Mac users) the shit out of my life?
Yesterday, through a friend, the universe placed the book Mindful Intentions in my hands. This is a stunning book of photography and written intentions that has already helped me re-appreciate the beauty of nature and the simple, but powerful nature of a well-contemplated intention. This morning, I meditated on the first page, which illustrates a lush, green valley with fog/clouds appearing to touch the surface. Underneath the photo, the caption says: “If you must know how something will come out before you begin, you will never start.”
Just as the foggy clouds are preventing us from seeing the rest of the green landscape, we won’t know what lies beyond until we see for ourselves. I love this affirmation because it’s not only meaningful, but also logical: It is truly impossible for us to know “what will happen” unless we make it happen. I have read about or heard from so many people who decided to never take a leap of faith into a new endeavor because they couldn’t predict with certainty what the outcome would be. How many times must we be reminded to trust the process and be pleasantly surprised when our plans go to shit, but something much better manifests instead?
If you’re experiencing reluctance to either begin an endeavor or begin again, consider what’s holding you back. Is it because you feel unprepared? If so, what amount of preparation is acceptable in order to begin a journey? I’ll strongly argue that an expert status is far from necessary; in fact, it will be impossible to achieve expert status until you’ve gained experience doing the work. There is a difference between being completely clueless about the basic premises of your situation (which you won’t be) and knowing enough to be functional.
A social justice service-learning researcher named Tania Mitchell discusses a principle in her work called “driven by plausibility.” (It’s my Instabio, lolz.) In her article, Tania quotes a student who says, “Sometimes you don’t necessarily know what’s the best end result that you are looking for, but you do know that it has to be better than what is there presently.” Being “driven by plausibility rather than accuracy” gives us the permission we need to thrive within the ambiguity of not knowing everything, but knowing that in time we will learn what we need to.