Start Where You Are

Start Close In

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.

Start with the ground you know, the pale ground beneath your feet, your own way of starting the conversation.

Start with your own question, give up on other people’s questions, don’t let them smother something simple.

To find another’s voice, follow your own voice, wait until that voice becomes a private ear listening to another.

Start right now take a small step you can call your own don’t follow someone else’s heroics, be humble and focused, start close in, don’t mistake that other for your own.

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.

~David Whyte, River Flow: New and Selected Poems

I'll be 43 in Wednesday. Seems like at this age I'd have a lot figured out, right? So it's mind blowing to me how much I've learned about myself and life this last year.

I embarked on a Year of Creative Habits at the very end 2016. I was sitting in my dad's basement in Idaho and looking for something to pass the time during a really nasty snow storm (I hate the cold and snow). So I picked up some watercolors and started to play. I didn't have expectations about what would happen, but I did know I was creatively bored, stuck and uninspired. I was struggling to find my artistic voice — I thought I knew what it was, but midway through 2016 I found myself trying too hard to be like everyone else and really hating any art I created. Being stuck is a horrible feeling, but it propelled me commit to a year of creating daily.

When I started, I thought it was going to be hard. I thought I was going to hate it. I thought I'd give up a few months in. But I didn't. I loved the project. I loved creating every day. I loved the challenge of fitting in creative time into my already busy schedule. I loved exploring and creating with different tools and mediums. I looked forward to my art time each day and it had become an key part of my routine.

I'm in my 11th month now (holy shit, 11 months is a really long time to stick with a daily challenge!!) and had my greatest epiphany yet. So much of what had me stuck was I was scared to start. It was all too overwhelming. Gathering materials, thinking about what I might paint, over analyzing each stroke and hoping for an amazing masterpiece. I didn't start because I didn't know what the end would be. The uncertainly was paralyzing.

But having started for more than 300 days straight I now understand that any task, any goal, any leap ..: simply has to be started. And the best place to start is with what you know or where you are.

"Start close in" the poem says. What is close to you or your heart? What do you know? What do you love? Start there. Don't think about the second or third step, just start.

If you're waiting for the perfect circumstances to start, I promise you they will never come and you'll still be waiting. Just start.

If you're waiting to learn more and be more, then you'll be waiting forever. I stalled when it came to creating art because I thought I needed more training. I thought I needed more classes. I thought I needed to go to art school. But guess what? I didn't. The practice of creating every, single day has been my best teacher. Had I not started, I wouldn't have grown and developed as an artist. It was the starting that made it happen. Not the knowing or the training, but a simple step forward.

Honestly, I wish I would have understood this years ago. Starting without know what the end result might me, but being willing to just try and figuring things out along the way is the way to go. It takes the angst out of makes moving forward and growing. It's just a step. It's not the whole story. It's not the end result. It's just a step.

Start close in, don’t take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don’t want to take.