When St. Benedict said this years ago, I doubt that he thought some Nigerian youth in North America would be tweeting about this so much. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me tweet this over and over, and are probably tired of seeing this quote but always I tweet again (Did you see what I did there?). Anyway, I’ve spent the past week learning how to begin again, and though I’ve been learning about this in a religious context, I’ve been able to draw so much insight from it, so much that I thought to write to myself and possibly share with people what beginning again entails. And yes I am writing this to myself because sometimes I forget these things, I am only human after all.
Always we begin again
The first thing I drew from this quote was to take life easy, to take it one day at a time. In a world full of activities, engagements and information, everyone is busy doing something and taking a breather to just enjoy the moment can be very challenging. There are things to do — bills to pay, dreams to achieve, relationships to maintain, money to make — and the list goes on and on. The truth though is that you’ll never not have something to do and you’ll never not have something worth worrying about. Life is designed in such a way that even if you’re wealthy and accomplished, something will still be there, lurking, waiting for you to worry about it. You need to be very intentional about your actions, making a conscious decision to be grateful for where you are and just enjoy it. Bishop David Oyedepo used to say “For every new level, there’s a new devil” and I couldn’t agree more. The devil here is ideally figurative, it just means every stage of life has its challenges so you need to learn to be wise with the way you manage it. To go about life telling yourself that once you find a solution to your challenges, you’ll be able to live your best life is to send yourself to an early grave because it’s really a never-ending cycle.
Always we begin again.
I like to set goals for myself, I am a very intense overachiever and while that might sound like a good thing, the issue is that I tend to beat myself up when things aren’t going my way or when I’m not consistently achieving my goals. Life is not perfect and I’m not perfect, while I hear and know that, I don’t live it as much as I would like. With this quote, St. Benedict was encouraging annoying overachievers like me that can easily get stuck in past failures to look beyond that because it is exactly what it is called, the past. Yesterday is the past, one minute ago is the past. So with the new day, the new minute, the new second, we begin again. Did I not achieve what I wanted to achieve yesterday? Yes. Should I be okay with it? No, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it either. You are only allowed to beat yourself up when it’s becoming a pattern, and even then you just need to get your mind straight and begin again. The paradox of beginning again is that you have to forget to begin, and forgetting requires you to acknowledge what happened and learn from it being careful not to let it hold you back or stand as the foundation for future decisions. You can’t make progress if you’re still looking behind, looking to the past. Shift your gaze, face forward and begin again.
Always we begin again
Beginning again can be so addictive when you explore its fullness — the ability to shut out the noise and just listen, again and again, to stay still in the middle of weird situations and remind yourself that crappy situations don’t last, to give yourself hope and strength in uncomfortable situations. Beginning again reminds you of how truly forgiving life is — that there’s no cap on the number of times you can begin again whether it be in your career or relationships or even trivial habits. Beginning again is the reason I can never be sold on having new year resolutions or setting ambiguous goals I desire to achieve in the new year because there’s nothing stopping me from starting today. It’s really the notion of having a blank canvas or a clean slate in form of a year that we chase — the notion that you can justifiably forget all that happened in the previous year and start afresh — that is what fuels the craze about new year resolutions. Beginning again frees me from all that because my heart speaks to me words that assure me that I can start today, I can start right now. It doesn’t have to be comfortable, I don’t have to “feel” like it, I just have to do it. Relying on your emotions to make life decisions will take you nowhere anyway.
Always we begin again
Beginning again surpasses starting something new, it can be adopted when you’re in the middle of something. The middle can be a very uninteresting and depressing place, but beginning again means embracing the middle and understanding that a new day spent in the middle represents progress and brings you closer to the end. Beginning again also transcends a new day, it can be a minute or second thing if you really understand it. And the word “always” is intentional, a reminder that irrespective of where you are and what’s going on — be it good, average or bad — we always begin again. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said this quote in the middle of a conversation or a situation. To me, it stands as a word of encouragement — a word of assurance that though something messed up just happened, I’m going to look beyond it and begin again. Beginning again is about acknowledging the present but having hope in a better future, it’s telling yourself “I’m not going to let this get to me or beat myself up over things outside my control, I’ll move on from it the very minute I can”. I can’t even explain how much the quality of my life has improved since I discovered this saying. If things go wrong, we keep our chin up and begin again. If things go right, we celebrate and begin again. ALWAYS we begin again.