I read about this wonderful project in Oregon,promoted by Oregon Humanities,called “Dear Stranger.” Participating had a pull on me and I immediately knew I wanted in. The very thought of exchanging a letter with a stranger fluttered my heart. I was excited to find my own truth in this project and I am equally excited to hear my stranger’s story or remembrance, his/her interpretation of what ‘start’ means.
Below is the letter I wrote to my stranger:
We were told to write about starts. First starts, second starts, good starts, bad starts. Naturally I began to think about my starts. It caused me to pause and examine the “starts” I remember. What was significant about them? What emotions were present? How did I grow and what was gained? Lost? I’m not yet 40 and, yet, my short life has seen its fair share of starts. An abundance of starting overs. Some by choice. Some be the choices of others. Some in which I felt empowered. A trailblazer. An adventure seeker. Others in which I felt powerless, helpless, and bound by fear.
As I write this, I’m recognizing that I was never powerless. I was never without choice. I have always had choices in how I responded to forces beyond my control. Forces sometimes so mighty, so loud that the only choice was to start over. But I got to choose how that starting over would look. What path it would take and whether I would choose to hate it, resist it, allow the power to jade me.
I have certainly resisted at times. I have suffered deeply for not accepting what is. I have suffered for trying to protect and cocoon all I owned and what I believe I owned. In these starting overs I have seen that ownership, control, safety…these are illusions. We never truly own, control, or create safety. We simply believe we do. I don’t say this out of bitterness but quite the opposite. I say this because I have seen freedom in the letting go of all I wanted to possess physically and emotionally. I’m free to acknowledge life circumstances for what they are. Mostly outside of my control. Oh! The freedom in that knowledge.
I have found that ‘starting overs’ are gifts. If we welcome them, move with them, invite the lessons that lie within. Stop wrestling with them. Surrender.
Truly each and every day is a starting over. Each day we can choose how to flow with new beginnings. Right now, if I fully invite my starting overs into my life, I believe I’ll continue to grow in empathy, love, and kindness. And, so, I do just that. I invite starting over in my career. In my husband’s career. I accept the challenges with my children and choose to love them deeper tomorrow. I accept the financial struggle and uncertainty that comes with two years of unemployment. I acknowledge my feelings and emotions and I appreciate the opportunity to know them more intimately. I cherish the starting over with my husband.
Daily starting overs. Each day new opportunities. New growth. I guess I’m truly grateful for this life, for the ability to choose, for the endless days of beginning again. This breath always new, therefore each breath is, in essence, starting over.