New Chapter

beginning1Whenever it feels like a fresh start is on the horizon, I can’t help but be reminded of my friend Diane’s email signature. Each message concludes with “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Most people probably only remember this as a line in Semisonic’s “Closing Time.” But its origins are a little older. Roman philosopher Seneca was first credited with the quote in the mid-1st century. Still, the timelessness of the sentiment rings just as true today.

I’ve spent the last decade flying high, scraping the bottom, or generally anticipating what grand inspiration is waiting to send lightning bolts to a barren mental field. It’s an odd life and not one that I would readily recommend, but each time the door handles lock and the gates slam shut, a tiny string attached to a rising balloon seems to find my fingers. I’m set back to start with renewed energy and open eyes.

Once again, I stand at the precipice. Looking out at a vast expanse of maybes, I’m invigorated by potential and promise, hope and heartbreak. I never thought I would spend so much time on the tightrope, but I’m learning to love walking on the wire. My dough doesn’t fit inside the cookie-cutter mold and dancing to a different drum was inevitable, no matter how much I tried to conform.

So, with some unique fuel sources and a universal pinch on the cheeks for good luck, I’m strapped in for the rocket ride. The stationary bike is off its trainers and there’s finally some rubber on the road. Whether or not I put any miles on the odometer is left to be determined. But I’m confident the sun will still shine on planted seeds, regardless of the rain.

The Self-Esteem/Self-Confidence Paradox

paradox1“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”  -Carl Jung

There are no lies more damaging than the ones we tell ourselves. Living in a city of surface judgments and split-second perceptions, I have felt the weight of my cloak getting increasingly burdensome. The assertiveness of my projections is being tested against the veracity of my core, and that dizzying dance is beginning to take its toll.

Honoring the guts of the gadget is loving the machine. We’re not only luster and smiles, but rusted gears and loosened bolts. Parading ourselves as showroom-ready when we’re barely rental-lot level overtaxes the battery and burns out the engine.

This fight is a daily push-and-pull of expectations and introspective criticism, while strapping on specific masks most suitable for the occasion. I’m a born pugilist, but I’ve taken some critical blows. The dormant ego has long been jockeying for position and there’s significant stress on the dam. Cracks are inevitable.

Stockpiling worry and wonder has done some irreparable physical damage, and my neck, shoulders, and spine are paying the price for a lifetime of carrying baggage beyond my frame’s tolerance. But I will continue to drag those stones up the mountain because my brain has prescribed the pain, and this parading false exterior dutifully follows doctor’s orders.

My hope for all of us is that the road begins to level and the load learns to lighten. Some of that is circumstantial, but the bulk of the work hinges on our willingness to solve a puzzle by compartmentalizing the good and the grime.

The value we place on our stressors is imaginary and fleeting, but the trick is explaining that concept to biological circuitry specifically programmed to tie knots in the rope.