Once Upon A Time, In The Beginning, Once There Was A, and all the other story book beginnings one can think of are not the only way to start a story. They sound nice, Sure! They give us a subtle sense of structure, Uh Huh! And they are not the way most of our anecdotes come into the world. Most of my stories begin with sound effects. POW! BAM! BOOM! – These either refer to my clumsiness or that of my increasingly mobile twin boys. – A sound breaking open the calamity and wonder of life and breathing time is possibly the only true manifestations of all of life’s color and queries.
Beginnings and theme songs and opening credits do exist. How else will my kids know to freeze mid-drool or livingroom romp to stare mesmerizingly at the screen for Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? There are beginnings and there must be, but there must also be fluidity in how, where and when we recognize them.
My boys never have diaper explosions at the opening of our night-night routines. No. It’s always after we have fed, changed and convince them of the joys of sleep that I notice a brownie smudge on one of their shoulders…We didn’t have brownies. (How it managed to get on his shoulder and seemingly nowhere else remains a mystery that inspires awe). But these toilet misses remind me of how unscheduled and apparently haphazard life’s entrances can be. (Maybe haphazard isn’t the word I mean, it assumes an accident may have occurred, and I like to think that many of life’s accidents are perfectly orchestrated bits of fate). What I mean is the beginnings of relationships, career changes, risks, adventures, sorrows and bliss are happening in our midst, right in the middle of everything we still appear to be in the middle of.
Beginning in the middle, how unorganized and edifying. Training us to adjust, hold on and sometimes left go, life’s sudden starts are a grand thing of beauty. We should aspire to be so free with how we enter a room or the next chapter in our narratives. Right in the middle of assuming we do not possess enough of the right stuff, of maybe needing a little more time, or doubting we’ll ever be ready… Start. When we think we are underqualified and will never be taken seriously… Begin. Standing in the muddy residue of fading relationships and stalling career growth… We must gather our guts and take step #1. Everything will work out as it will and we will all be fonder of ourselves for putting on our tap shoes in life’s crazy, rhythmic dance, and, at the very least, for pretending we know what we are doing.
In the end, start in the middle.