Begin again…and again…and again…
Beginnings are my favourite. Whether it be in a book, a tv show, a film or in life, ultimately the beginning of any story makes me feel the most wonderful of senses and emotions. Which part of a story is your favourite? The thing is, that beginnings don’t last and before long you are in the middle of the story, the journey, which does of course have its own charm and then before you know it the end has arrived. The end, it’s a phrase at the finish of every fairytale and every story whether written or not, I find those feelings very confusing, happy and yet sad, content and yet bereft.
I have talked before about finding things at the right time in life, the impact of something can shift entirely depending on when it arrives and for me this is something I believe especially in. Look at my books, I have shelves full of books I have bought knowing that one day soon I will enjoy it, but if I pick it up at the wrong time it just doesn’t fit, it bounces out of my brain and scatters off of my soul. Pick it up at the right time and my mind embraces it like the friend I never knew I needed and my soul is filled with warmth and light and a new level of understanding.
I think every single person that we meet is much the same, had I met my now husband when I could have back in the first year of university, our story could be completely different. As it is during first year, he was somewhere on the periphery, one of those ‘other people’ that I knew of but didn’t know. I was in a relationship that I was sure was solid and I would never have looked at him in the same way as I did when we eventually met and to know each other, half way through my third year and when he was living away from the uni bubble. Is that fate, coincidence, or something in the middle that is as equally mystifying?
Beginnings are always my favourite, beginnings seem to race by at the same time the butterflies in your tummy burst into action and seem to maddeningly, slowly, eek out every possible meaning of every word and look and gesture, as your nerve endings tingle painfully and wonderfully. I love reading a book and experiencing the first meeting of the main characters, in books you know that this is the beginning of something epic — there wouldn’t a book if it weren’t. Being able to dissect every part of every encounter is beautiful and makes your imagination run wild through possibilities. The same feeling is there at the beginning of a film or a series, and I think ultimately it is because I am an optimist and I am a dreamer, but more than that I am a horribly obsessed romantic.
In life, you hope something is the beginning of an epic as a story, but unlike a book or a film your story hasn’t been mapped out yet, or at least if it has you are the main character in your own story and main characters never know how or what or when things will happen. I would be lying if I said I look back to the days of single life and enjoy thinking about how many false starts I had, how much time and effort and emotion went into the start of relationships, friendships or dreams that amounted to very little in the end. But at the same time, I still love to live vicariously through Billy and Sophie (Billy and me) or Edward and Bella (I know I am sorry but I loved it) or any number of fictionalised romantic entanglements. Does that mean I miss these experiences myself? No absolutely not. Does it mean I think my life boring? No not as a general rule, life is what you make it and I try to make mine emphatically not boring, that doesn’t mean I am a thrill seeker but it does mean I try to do what keeps me content, fulfilled and sometimes happy. Sometimes that means crying, sometimes that means shouting, sometimes that means going for a walk and gleefully eating ice cream in the freezing cold. Sometimes the path to a good contented life is through something or somewhere sad, but that is for the everyday and everyday there are so many beginnings it can be easy to forget that once upon a time isn’t just for an epic love story, adventure or otherwise.
The middle is more complicated, the journey is hard to define within perimeters, when does the middle start and the beginning end, when does the ending start and the middle finish? It is murky and unclear.
The ending is even worse, when reading a book you know it is coming because you can see how many pages you have left, but a responsible writer also tells you this in their writing, they prepare you for the end because they have (hopefully) introduced you to characters of their imagination, made you fall in love with them, made you invest in their journey and now they need to gently but wonderfully show you their happily ever after, or not so happily as the case may be.
Obviously not all books are about romances, however a book without some close attention to the human condition is…well I am not really sure what it is. Some of the best books are about friendship, and they are equally as fantastic to experience, ‘The girl of ink and stars’ being one that springs to mind, dedication and sacrifice because love is all encompassing. So maybe it’s love we are most obsessed with in a story in any medium?
Still, beginnings are the one for me, the end quite often scares me, the journey is usually the hardest part, but the beginning is full of hope and mystery and I feed off of it. I am not sure what that says about me, but I think it is certainly something that filters through into my life. I am dreamer, I know this. I am an optimist, I know this too. I see the best in people, I know this because when people let me down, it hurts. I get excited a lot, even about the little things, I know this because I see people who are not like me roll their eyes, and yes it does sting. I see a new idea vividly, like it has already happened and then when it doesn’t happen I feel real gut deep disappointment. It is exhausting but also, to not feel the way I feel would mean I wasn’t me, or that I was sacrificing so much of myself that I would no longer know these things about myself.
When you get to the stage that you have lived with anxiety without wanting to admit it, when you have admitted it and tried and failed to control it, when you have finally managed to not only understand the concept of ‘taking a step back’ but learned how to do so (and I promise it seems impossible but it isn’t), it is at this point you realise what you can do to make these things easier to manage. Control is a concept, a concept I actually don’t believe in. I believe in managing things, because managing things means that failing isn’t an option, only set backs are and set backs are OK.
There was a time when, whenever something went ‘wrong’ or I felt ashamed, embarrassed, scared or hurt, I would turn to a new beginning like it was the answer, like a new beginning meant a new chance. Now, the impulse is still there, I want to run in the opposite direction from my problems and towards something new, but I don’t. Then I would invest so much in a new beginning, that when the beginning came and left and I didn’t feel any different, it would hit me like a tonne of bricks, harder each time and more and more impossible to control. Now I feel that impulse and I stare at it directly and say, you only hold power as long as I let you, and I take a shaken but confident step towards the problem, and it is over far more quickly than it would have been had I run away.
When you have learned to manage your anxiety, you look at a beginning with optimism and hope as usual, but when there is an eye roll or a let down you take a step back and say ‘why is this affecting me?’, when I do this, more often than not it isn’t the eye-roll that has bothered me, it is what the eye roller has unwittingly tapped into, an insecurity, a worry, some inner turmoil that until that point had remained just that — inner and invisible. You cannot change how other people react, but you can change the way you do and the first step towards that is accepting that control is a concept, change and management are achievable methods with long term effects.
So do I love beginnings because at the beginning things seem uncomplicated, at the beginning characters are naive or ignorant or unaware and so blissful? Probably, but I have learned to love the journey and I have learned to find my way to coping with the ending, even if it isn’t a happy one. The beginning will always be my favourite, but I don’t rely on it like I perhaps once used to, a beginning is nothing if it doesn’t run its course and you cannot rush that.