beginning

Vroom Vroom: On Beginning

Some streams of thought about starting things and taking imperfect action

I don't really care too much about cars, but vroom vroom is one of my favorite sounds. It's the growl of an engine revving. It's the sound of friction and energy waiting to be released into motion or power or music. An earth-shattering electric guitar solo is full of vroom vroom, and so are rock organs (see: Carry on My Wayward Son).  All your muscles hum this sound on the first leg of a race or run. Vroom vroom, the sound of leather jackets, Harley Davidsons, and maybe of Will Smith strutting through a dark hallway somewhere. Vroom vroom: potential energy or an adventure waiting to happen. The ready and the rearin' make the sound of vroom vroom.  

I love that sound. 

But we're (ahem: I'm) not always vroom vroom vrooming along. Sometimes we sputter, sometimes we burn fumes, sometimes we're run ragged.  We don't always meet change and opportunity with all our energy, will, and strength singing "let's do this thing."  We frequently lose our figurative vroom vroom to fear, cynicism, stress, fatigue, apathy. 

And sometimes we just can't vroom vroom along, even if we have a will or passion of great horsepower. Sometimes, our energy and our desire has to idle, and stabilize. Sometimes we must wait, for traffic lights, for other people, for healing, for second chances. Sometimes we must be still.

And sometimes, the only way to move forward is by lurching-- unevenly, imperfectly, awkwardly. 

Speaking of cars, I really like the Spanish verb "arrancar."  This verb means several things. It can mean "to pull out" (or really, to yank) -- a weed, a piece of paper from a notebook, a strand of hair. But it can also mean "to start" (as in starting a car). The word denotes a kind of starting that isn't exactly perfect-- it's jolting and haphazard.   

We forget that we all begin this way. We begin jerkily. We waver.  We take imperfect steps forward, we fall down and get back up again. We tear at curtains and chair legs to try and lift ourselves into a standing position.  We make grown-ups laugh. 

Reckoning with gravity is one of the very first things that we learn to do in our infant bodies.  We don't stand up by ridding our world of gravity, we stand by practicing, again and again, how to position ourselves in response to gravity. 

Somehow, we forget as we get older that everyone is still learning to manuever themselves in their way. No one on earth has ever lived this day or this moment before. Why do we so often deny ourselves the growth that can only come to us via adversity and resistance? Why are we so afraid of taking movement forward at the risk of being wrong, or of falling down?

Struggle is part of growing, and we don't get more out of life more by ridding ourselves of it. We get more out of it by going through it, and practicing our response to it. And I know, we hear this all the time, but it doesn't always stick.

I love this beautiful snippet from essayist Brian Doyle: 

"For our hearts are not pure; our hearts are filled with need and greed as much as with love and grace; and we wrestle with our hearts all the time. The wrestling is who we are. How we wrestle is who we are. What we want to be is never what we are. Not yet. Maybe that’s why we have these relentless engines in our chests, driving us forward toward what we might be."

I'm starting this website again after being complacent with the status quo in my life for many years. After "feeling" like I wasn't making progress. And by "this website," what I really mean is my investment of time and money into pursuing creative endeavors that I've dreamed about doing ever since I was a little girl.  I've let a lot of things hold me back-- matters concerning time and money. But more so, I held myself back by espousing the attitude of "I might fail, I might lose, so it's probably best to not even try." 

It's amazing, the propensity that we have to sabotage ourselves and our greatest dreams, especially in the name of "caution" or "security."  

“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty....We are all part of creation, all kings, all poets, all musicians; we have only to open up, only to discover what is already there.”                                      -Henry Miller

 

My inner vroom vrooms, or those finest impulses, for me, have always been tied to creating. Now, the irony is that I have always had a hang-up about sharing what I create, mostly because of my reasons for creating art in the first place. But I'm gradually getting over that because I have realized more and more this past year that for me, art is one of the most profound ways that I can connect to other people. It's also one of the best ways to give gifts-- of understanding, empathy, enlightenment, entertainment, and catharsis. 

This is true even when our efforts are imperfect-- and maybe even to a greater degree. 

So thanks for reading. Thanks for being with me in this way, whether you know me personally or not. Underneath all the craziness of life, the most important progress that can be made is within people and between people. We're here to learn how to be together and love each other-- and that can happen (or not happen) in many little ways. 

So start your engines. Here we go...  :) 

-em