“A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.”
- Frank Herbert, “Dune”
Time for you to go out to the places you will be from
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
I had a bunch of things stacking up and running round and round in my head recently. I wanted to get them all out in some kind of nice, logical sequence. But I was having a hard time sorting through them, and sort of out of exasperation I muttered to myself, “Where do I even start?” We’ve all been there, and it’s often not very pretty.
So, I was wrestling with it all when it suddenly dawned on me, duh, you need to do what they (the proverbial “they”) always suggest: “Start at the beginning.” Makes sense. Good enough for me. Besides, I didn’t have any other ideas. OK, onward.
But first, wait, what? Not so fast. Very abruptly, the obvious became much less so. Things started spinning ‘round and ‘round again, if not completely inverting outright. Now what?! Quickly my nice, obvious, simple, orchestrated “begin-at-the-beginning” mantra started to dissolve right before my eyes, going something like this: OK then, beginnings imply processes, and also ultimately endings; beginnings in a vacuum, without some sense of direction or purpose, are random aimless wanderings, or life as dartboard or piñata.
What started out simple enough, just wasn’t working. And ultimately didn’t feel right. But I kept trying, because it was so obvious and simple: Just start at the beginning and put one foot in front of the other. Step at a time. And all of that sounds, if sliced up granularly enough, also a relatively straight forward linear process.
Ah, but for chickens and eggs. And crossing the road. And reasons why. And goals. And processes. And then finally of course, beginning those processes.
It was right there in front of me the whole time, buried in a timeline that I was seeing too rigidly, from beginning activities to end results – something that seemed a pretty obvious linear process, right?
Until I realized that it might not be linear at all – at least not the way I was seeing it: beginning to middle to end, sorta left to right, over time. It might still be linear, I mean one foot in front of the other, but it certainly was more complex than my simple, rigid initial view. It was more circular, or iterative, and possibly even inverted somehow.
What became clearer to me, wrestling with beginning some things, is that we don’t really ever do things this way – we just define it this way, falsely.
It turns out, for me at least upon closer inspection, that we never really begin at the beginning after all. Instead, whenever we really want to succeed at something, we begin at the end – by delineating as clearly and precisely as we can the goals we hope to achieve. And then we work our way, backwards, all the way back to the appropriate associated beginning. Maybe we could even go so far as to say that the goal or result is in fact the beginning’s beginning.
This all started to sound like an Escher painting somehow… But naw, rather than seeing it all as convoluted and impossible, maybe it’s actually how life really is: cyclical; interdependent; causes and conditions resulting in subsequent causes and conditions, one event leading inextricably to the next. Nothing necessarily existing independently as either beginning or end, but really only labeled by us as such. I think the Buddhists call it “Dependent Arising” or “Interdependent Origination”‘ Some pretty cool, if also lofty, shit.
And I mean, that’s all fine and dandy, and highfalutin I guess, until you need to accomplish something tangible or mundane or critical. Then what? How do you translate lofty notions of dependent events into practical mechanisms for success?
How do you break out of this chain of dependent events? Maybe you need to put a stake in the ground, somewhere. But if so, where?
It occurs to me that it should be at the end, at your goal. Because your goal is, and needs to be in fact, your beginning’s beginning.
So, begin there – at the end! (And that is now starting to sound like Alice in Wonderland meets Dr. Seuss). But remaining undaunted by the sound of it all, I think we should always begin by choosing some beginning’s beginning, i.e. goal. We put our stake in the ground there – by defining, refining, and then intending our goal.
Doesn’t matter what those goals are. Could be mundane or lofty, could be simple or complex, could be short term or long. What’s important is to just be as clear as we can be about what they are, and how we might define them.
And... to realize that they are simply a manifestation, in our physical world, of processes and efforts which lead up to and culminate in them. But by first carefully choosing what we want to achieve, and then reverse engineering our way back to the predecessor conditions which cause those goals, we establish the right process to engender our success.
This is the process of engaging our will. This is guiding and focusing our thoughts and energies into a specific direction of willful intention. This is the essence of manifestation.
This is where we begin: at the end, at the beginning’s beginning.
“Is this to end or just begin?”
- Led Zeppelin
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Wormholes of Intent
Dr. Seuss Meets the Time Portal
When starting a thing
I jump right to the end
Precisely the place
I know to begin
You work your way backwards
A step at a time
From finish to start
In some kind of line
Just pick out your goal
And set your intent
Proceeding this way
You’ll go where you went
A process unfolds
From future to now
Exposing the steps
Explaining the how
The path to the future
Which now is your past
The breadcrumbs you left
Are guidance at last
But anchored in Now
You see your beginning
(Now middle, somehow)
Exploiting this loophole
Move future to past
Create the conditions
Which you hope to last
Not just moving forward
But as science has said
The direction of time
Is all in your head
A matter of view
You choose your perspective
Which then makes you, you
So, choose your ends wisely
‘Cause where you begin
Turns out, over time,
Is right where you’ll end
~ ~ ~
“You see, it’s all clear
You were meant to be here
From the beginning”
- Emerson, Lake, and Palmer – “From the Beginning”