Starting Over

freshpaintsigncroped

The gallery is in Yarmouthport, Massachusetts

Starting over. Starting fresh. It sounds like a new coat of paint over a tired life. The messy slate of the past is wiped clean, and ahead is a shiny new start. We can put on a new face, a new attitude, a new effort. It seems like we can create a whole new identity with as little effort as a new website.

Soon enough, that new effort is overwhelmed by the old ideas, old habits, old behavior–the old us. Alcoholics Anonymous figured this out years ago when they said, “If you are a drunk in Cleveland, moving to Peoria for a fresh start isn’t the answer. You’ll be a drunk in Peoria, too.” It’s a wise saying, although a tough one. (AA never pretended to have easy answers.)

When I went to Catholic school (I’m not a Catholic, but that’s another story), I loved seeing my friends go to confession. They’d say their prayers and their sins were wiped away. Poof! Just like that, they were brand new and sin free. Unfortunately, the old habits didn’t vanish, and my guess is that the same sins got repeated in the confessional time after time. And since there were different priests, no one really noticed or cared, and little personal growth resulted.

Teresa Jennings Robinson read this post and sent me the gorgeous hand-lettered quote she made for her art journal. See more of her work at rightbrainplanner.com

Teresa Jennings Robinson read this post and sent me the gorgeous hand-lettered quote she made for her art journal. See more of her work at rightbrainplanner.com

And that’s the danger of new projects. They seem free of the past baggage, but they are not free of us. We show up with our past, and relive it because it’s familiar. In a few days that new project takes on the fingerprints of the old us. If we don’t like the old us, we’ll hate the new project, too.

I have friends who are start-up junkies. Addicted to new beginnings, these eager people will start up a company with the fervor of Ron Popeil selling the Veg-O-Matic. But they aren’t good at running a company, which seems tedious and boring, so they dash off to do another start-up, leaving the clean-up team to handle the rest.

Any beginning feels like the creative part. And it is. But the road-test of creativity is showing up every day to do the hard work. The book I am writing is hard work. It’s satisfying, and I enjoy it, but it’s not riding rainbow unicorns. It involves saying “I can’t go to the movies with you, I’m writing,” or thinking, “I need to re-write this chapter, it’s not working, even if it is the fourth re-write.”

Creative work is hard. We want to give up, we get bored,  we want to do something fun and new. Yet what gets the work done is moving steadily ahead, when it’s not fun and not new.  Learning from your mistakes and getting up every time you fall is what the real work of creativity. And it pays off.

—Quinn McDonald is working on a re-write of a trio of chapters. She has done it before, and she may well do it again.

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5 thoughts on “Starting Over

    • Yep, you could keep adding cupboards, and of course, lock them up, then get a storage space to keep them, and worry about them and getting those thoughts damp or eaten by rats. Or, you could clean out the whole mess and move on. Both are hard work.

  1. It doesn’t matter where you go you have to take yourself with you……

    I heard this a few weeks ago and its become like a mantra…as you know I did a big new beginning…2 easters ago now….I have to be mindful not to fall into the same traps,same thought patterns,same mode of being…I am still me and learning every day,but trying to shed old layers,the victim,the blame game,all that rubbish that holds you back. …think I am getting there. WOW….its been grey and grim here for days as i wrote this a massive ray of sun has burst through and literally lit up the world and river outside! My word is LIGHT….how apt as ever….you really are my ray of sunshine when you land in my inbox most days….have a wonderful Easter.
    Feeling positive in my new life….i aint moving again for years !!xxxx

    • Your entry came in as anonymous, but I’ve got my guesses. That light you saw? It’s your own light. Go stand in your own light and know that you don’t have to wait for others to shed light on you.

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