Do you ever dream up a phrase that shakes you to the core and then turn around and it’s EVERYWHERE? Have you ever been stalked by your own words? To be honest, this happens to me pretty frequently. But never to the level and intensity of these three words:
Let’s Begin Again
Now I know I am not the first person in human history to utter this phrase. But it rang out to me in a new way when I was writing (a song) one day and they felt like mine. They felt like a longing. They felt like a command. They felt like a prayer.
And to be sure I wouldn’t forget them, they began to chase me. It’s like they were looking for a home, and they chose me. A willing host. A vessel. And thus began my relationship with this powerful little phrase. What does it mean to begin again? And why was it so important to my life in this season?
Let’s Begin Again came to me one afternoon when I was playing the keyboard in our attic. I am not much of a piano player, but I am a perfectionist none the less. I was sitting down to write a song and getting nowhere. My desire for what I made to be good, great even, had stolen the open space required for me to make anything at all. So I decided to do something a little silly. I was going to record myself (danger! danger!) sloppily playing whatever came into my head. I was going to document myself making something ugly. Failing. And then I was going to force myself to listen to it (AHHHHHH!).
This is a major trigger for me. I know the value of risk and messes in creativity and innovation. I know the value for everyone else. I struggle to own it for myself and reap its rewards.
So there I was. Clomping around on the keys making obnoxious and loud noises, singing a silly song that began something like, “This is supposed to be fun. Making a mess is fun. I am safe to make ugly songs. I don’t have to get it all right, alright? I don’t have to follow any rules.” And I was laughing that uncomfortable laugh, not the having actual fun laugh. But the awkward, “Make it stop” laugh. I kept with it and pushed through my discomfort and something magical happened. I sang out the words “messy songs are ok, cause messy songs don’t last, we just start over, let’s begin again.” Suddenly the song fell into an order around that little phrase let’s begin again.
It dropped something into my heart that I hadn’t understood before. Failure is safe because failure is temporary. We never run out of opportunities to try again as long as we don’t choose to give up. We are the only ones who can make our failures permanent: with our obsessive thinking about the past or worse, by letting our failure be the last risk we ever take.
This realization has unlocked several practical concepts for overcoming the fear of failure. Read on, if you are into that sort of thing.
Here is a piece of the decidedly not ugly song that came out of that clomp fest in the months following:
Call me a fool
I go down every time
Looks like learning to fall
But I’m learning to fly
I have decided
Losing's not the end
You’ll part the waters
Or I’ll learn to swim
I’d rather live here knee deep in the Jordan
Than let all my dreams of the other side die
They say I have more hope than I can afford
I can’t bear the cost of forgetting to try
Let's begin again