Learn like a beginner.
I love this in theory.
Practicing this humble beginning mindset is harder to do.
I’ve a history of barrelling “rip snort” into life and adventure and decisions and down crazy slopes and up hard-to-start vertical climbs beneath alpine peaks.
In the past two years, I’ve been less rip snort and more “watch from the weeds.” But this time of living has me looking at caution and wisdom differently – with more respect – than in the past.
Why learn like a beginner?
Beginners are often hopeful.
Possibilities spill from every opportunity and fresh start.
Beginners look for allies and mentors.
Even if the unknown threatens to overwhelm, beginners “don’t know they don’t know” or “what can’t be done.”
It’s exciting to begin.
A world of opportunity unfolds ahead.
Think of the last time you tried something new. How did you feel?
When you tipped from wishing to wanting to working towards a new beginning, what were you thinking?
As you stood at the point where you either lept or walked away, what nudged you over to trying?
My brain. My heart.
They have conspired to conceal pride and insecurity in shades of “independence” and “resourcefulness.” So in this moment when I have climbed from the sewer of fear and among my worst fears, I stand in an unknown land on an unknown road and have to make a decision.
Will I operate off of the old understandings or will I begin the long walk forward into a place yet seen or even imagined?
Beginners – unlike most “seasoned” and salty folks – know that they really cannot know what is ahead. They learn and prepare – pack their ruck as best they can and then they go.
Recently, I read on the Appalachian Trail facebook page:
“HEY YALL, THERE ARE NO A.T. HIKING GURUS(SP)…STUFF YOUR PACK WITH THINGS YOU THINK YOU’LL NEED AND BE READY TO THROW HALF OF IT IN THE WOODS…YOUR BODY TELLS YOU WHAT YOU NEED”
Though, I won’t advocate tossing your heavy bits into the woods (that would be littering), I do appreciate the poster’s point. Stop ruminating and hunting for a panacea to cure or avoid all ills. There is no special portent to illuminate the future and way forward. Just move forward and “the way will be made.”
One of my long favorite words has been “mitigate”…which is kind of sad.
Instead, as I learn to live as a beginner, I will look for a new lexicon of favorite words such as “trust”, “wonder”, “optimism”, and “911” if help is ever needed.
I will call for help more.
And stop expecting myself to know everything ahead of time or on my own.
In the meantime, there are plenty of adventures to try, failures from which to learn, and people to get to know along the way. And – yes – there are bears and snakes ahead, too. Which is why I will continue to choose my companions carefully.
And carry bear spray.
And snakebite kit.
And change the batteries on the smoke alarms and flashlights.
Signs of life.
Bonus: If you haven’t already read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, I hope you soon will. As delightful and snarky as it can be in written form, it is also hilarious as read by the author. I have a copy and am happy to loan it to you. First come. First served.
And perhaps I’ll meet you on the Appalachian or Pacific Coast Trails one day.