I’m starting a new business as a wedding, elopement, and lifestyle photographer. I’m also trying to work up the courage necessary to launch my other online business — but I gotta admit, I’m scared on all fronts. Scared if I move forward, and more scared if I do not. I am continuing to write — and one of my fears is that I will rob more time from my writing. The subject of writing are posts for other days, however. Right now, my fears about beginning a new business are weighing me down.
"Beginning" is not the most frightening part of starting any new thing. It’s the unknown consequence of a new action — that’s what’s scary. It takes some form of courage to launch a new business, dive into a new relationship, or commence a new job — but the beginning of any new road is the easiest part of a long journey. For one thing, “beginning” something could be a whim, an impulsive gesture, or a stunt. It doesn’t have to mean anything, after all. It could be as meaningless as a one-night affair — just like that. It’s nothing.
But, there’s the lie. It’s not meaningless. There will be consequences. Guilt, deception, facing one’s lack of integrity. Some beginnings are simply stupid or cruel. We can be so dulled by our desires that we lose touch with the things that matter (honesty, love, kindness) and blind ourselves to what we’ve actually signed up for (lots of misery).
After taking a leap into [Fantasy of Choice] the commitment is implied even if unwanted. The commitment is an obligation to suffer the consequences or reap the rewards — whether you were serious or not the moment before. Unconsidered consequences — ahhh, that’s when things get dicey. From early in childhood, we learn the dangers of beginning something that seemed like a good idea at the time.
A simple example from childhood: One rainy day a mud puddle called your name. It begged you to leap into the innocent puddle. You, completely naive and innocent yourself, thought the puddle of water looked like a delightful swimming pool of delight in your otherwise dismal neighborhood of trailers, duplexes, and shanties. The sun egged on from behind a dark cloud, tossing a teasing sheen upon the water. However fantastical the pool of water presented itself — bottom line — you thought the puddle looked like fun and so you jumped. End of story. No big deal.
However, as the water splashed up and over the top of your shoes into your new K-mart sneakers, and it dared reach up and under your skirt, soiling your Cinderella panties, for gawd’s sake — far beyond your imagined deal with destiny — you had not imagined how ridiculously deep the puddle was — and dirty! Your mind races back to the second before you leaped from the dry-ish part of the sidewalk — How was this possible? How, oh how did it hide its filth and nasty offensive reach?
Still, it was you who did the jumping. You reflect for a moment, imagine rewinding time until the point you could have said, “No. Bad idea.” But it’s such a futile thing to do. You’re already wet up to your crotch and your knee-socks are muddy and brown and your shoes are filled with filthy water.
You walk home. Troubling awareness of reality barks at you and scolds: “You’re mother’s gonna kill you.” Your shoes squish-squash and squeak as your foot slides within the wet vegan (before it was cool to be vegan) leather. Your mind imagines not jumping. Your mind imagines that you didn’t do it at all. But you did. Yes, you did. You are to blame. Now, ready or not, you must go home and face the consequences.
[HEAVY ORGAN CHORD HERE]
Okay — that negative little scenario and trip down memory lane only presents one side to the dangers of Beginning. So, Beginning yet again, I'll re-frame it into something less pathetic. Fast forward to adulthood and independence from parental scorn.
How about this? You decide to sign up to that tandem jump lesson with your best but crazy as shit friend who worked on you for months and then finally one drunken night at Stockman’s Rape bar, (pre-pandemic) you agreed to do it. Her boyfriend and your boyfriend made bets about whether or not you’d have the courage to go through with it and damn-it-all, your boyfriend bet against you. So — you shook hands — a spit-pact to really seal the deal.
On the drive home, (yes, in an Uber, but-of-course — no drunk driving), your drunk mind races, thinking: “I have to go through with it. I stepped in a mighty big puddle this time.” On the left and right of your mind, demonic/angelic little voices whisper, “Just be a flake. You’re good at that. It’s who you are — nothing to be ashamed of, not really.”
But the higher self reasons, “If I flake — what a loser I’ll be. Again.” You go back and forth about it, finally convincing yourself that it’s so far in the future it won’t ever happen. Your friend will be too drunk to remember, she’ll set the date a month or more from now and it will all just go away like so many other great plans you have made. Somehow, this line of thinking comforts you. Quitting before you even begin, before you try, before you can even get excited — comforts you. Think about that.
Back to the story: You sleep relatively well until the morning your friend calls, wakes you, and drives over to pick you up. Today is the day you committed to. If you want — you could go ahead and quit. But now everyone knows about it. All your workmates from the office have bet against you. A few stand to win a lot of money if you do this thing, but the worst is the humiliation if you don't. If you don’t go through with it — that is, if you don’t go through with this again — (You have a reputation now: All talk, no action). You realize the pain and embarrassment of solidifying your “Quitter” brand is simply unbearable. Yeah — and you’re the one who has “don’t quit” all over your Facebook page, all over your walls, and stuck with magnets to your refrigerator — You, the one who says, “Don’t quit. Don’t give up. Never say die” is the one who is now known as The Quitter.
You have to do this.
Flying, on the damned plane, all the way up — all you want to do is crap your pants, puke, or both. And yeah — you’re also known for that. Shame has no bounds. (Luckily, you thought ahead and doubled up your cotton underwear. You went easy on the water and coffee — so far your bowels are intact).
Your friend, let’s call her Lucy. Let’s imagine it’s Lucy from Charlie Brown. She is exactly the type of dame who would put you up to this. She’s Lucy and you’re Charlie Brown today.
On the plane ride, Lucy pulls out a fifth of Jack Daniels, unscrews the lid, and says with a Cheshire smile, “It’s a good day to die, right?” If you weren’t so terrified you’d punch her right in the jaw, but you can barely move. You actually LAUGH at her messed up salut, though your laugh shakes and quivers. You’re shivering from fear. She can’t not laugh at your pale, pale face. She shoves the bottle toward you, forcefully nudging your bicep. “Drink up some courage,” she says. “When did you become fucking Annie Oakley,?” you snark -- F-bomb and all. (Oh praise, Jesus, there is still a hint of the brave, strong, woman you want to be within you, after all!)
You grab the bottle and take a hefty, hefty sip. Gawd - the burnnnn! And before you can remove the wince from your face. The pony-tailed fella on board — who the hell is that fella anyway? He opens the jump door, the wind blasts in and he yells, ”Ladies, Showtime!” You hate this fella this at this moment. He’s sort of cute, but you hate him. You hate your friend at this moment, too. HATE.
But before you know what is happening, your friend makes you stand up. She preps you, speaks some words, but you’re too scared to listen. You nod and nod and nod and then — she grabs you and you jump! (OH MY F***ING GAWD) OUT OF THE PLANE! Your heart! The Noise! The Wind! Oh ————— Dear Jesus! Where are the walls? The floor? STOP!
But then — It’s AMAZING!
It’s UNBELIEVABLE! It’s the most alive you’ve ever, ever, ever been in your life - AMAZING! But it is no-turning-back commitment. This is it. No way but down and with prayers that you survive.
Lucy yells instructions to get ready for the landing. She tells you what to do, preparing your body, your feet. She yells a bunch of Do’s and Don’ts. All the instructions sound horrible, impossible.
And Whammmmm-bbooooommm-runnnnnnnnning.... The parachute laps around you and Lucy. The pavement underneath you feels warm and as though it never existed before this moment.
You’re down. You’re laughing. You’re hysterical. Lucy is hysterical. Your face is wet from tears and wind and you can’t stop laughing and screaming. You're alive! Bonus: It’s the best thing you’ve ever done.
Yes. You could have died. But I bet you know it was worth it.
I am telling myself, and you, if you need to hear this today: It’s all going to be worth it.