There is a park on the main bypass through town. It is falling into disrepair because the play equipment is old and sparse. The wading pool has been closed. I pass it every time I take the bypass and, besides stopping once in the fall to take pictures of the leaves, I never give the park a glance. Until I started to notice the writing on the fence. Some unknown soul had woven bright green tape through the lattice of the fence to spell out the word *Begin.*
This, too, I ignored for weeks until one day I saw Begin and started thinking. What was I beginning in my life? What did I need to begin? I am in a phrase of change, of trying to get back to being the writer I am and move my life into the direction I want to go. Like most mothers, I have spent the last twenty some years of my life caring for children. So how, and when, do I begin my life again? How do I begin to be a writer again when I’ve only written in my mind for so long?
So what does Begin really mean? According to Dictionary.com, Begin means the following:
to proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action; commence; start:
to come into existence; arise; originate: be originator of
to succeed to the slightest extent in
All so simple and easy, right. We all know what the word begin means. We’ve used it all our lives. But now I wonder if I’ve I’ve ever really, really, thought about the word and it’s meaning, in particular how my life and beginning are intertwined.
To proceed to perform the first or earliest part of some action. As a writer, I begin by picking up my pen or, nowadays, turning on my laptop. Each word is a new beginning, a new choice, the possibility of my characters going right or left, saying one word or another. And each beginning subtly chances the course of the story.
To come into existence. Was this the first beginning? My birth with every moment since a new beginning because each moment I make a choice which, again, implies other possible choices. Is my life a life of moment to moment beginnings?
To succeed to the slightest extent in. As in, my salary won’t begin to cover all my expenses. Yeah, this one I know, too. I’ve struggled with the money issue all my life. How does one begin to accept that the money will be there and that if I just give up my need to control every aspect of my life, that the Universe will begin to take care of me.
Where does life begin? That is one of those issues people fight over, sometimes kill over. All because of the word begin. We all know that life is sacred, as we should, but where does it begin. In what moment in the womb, what second, makes the change from a growth of cells to a living being?
Begin? Being? How close these two words are. Is life simply about beginning to be?
DIctionary.com also says that begin is Old English beginnan “to begin, attempt, undertake,” a rare word beside the more usual form onginnan from bi- “be” + W.Gmc. *ginnan, of obscure meaning and found only in compounds, perhaps “to open, open up” (cf. O.H.G. in-ginnan “to cut open, open up.
How do I undertake my life, open myself up to all the glory that is waiting? How does one stop being afraid of beginning? And how do you begin? Have you thought about what you need to begin in your life?