The power of a new start, and putting first things first

One of the frustrating things about being a human, and a writer is that you never really 'start' a story, and it never really 'ends'. If I was writing a story about my own life, I could write about the different chapters I've experienced: boarding school, coming back to Australia, the early years in Pakistan, the start of the autism years. But none of them are really complete in themselves. The ongoing effects of Pakistan and boarding school play into my life still, 35 years later. And Pakistan itself has its own story, reaching generations back, that has affected mine.

Everything is interconnected, and nothing starts or ends.

For a long time I've seen life as a spiral. I joined the spiral at some point, I'm on it, going around and around, and one day I'll leave it, but the spiral will keep going. To be honest, a spiral is a pretty thin metaphor anyway. Life is bigger and more complex and fiery, with tendrils and dendrites and arms that reach in all sorts of directions.

For a long time, it seemed that it was pointless to even try to see things in terms of beginnings and endings, but as I grow older, I'm valuing the rituals of markers in life, the things that denote 'beginnings' and draw things to a close.

On the other hand, days start and end, years start and end, seasons start and end (although they do seem to glide and merge, jostle and bump into each other rather than stop and start.)

And all of that is simply a long-winded way to say: it's great to get new starts.

I've known for a long time that I've needed to change the way I've spent my work-at-home days. I've been too distracted, not focused enough, and not doing enough of what I want to be doing. I've known this for a while, but all last year it seemed too hard to change. Once 2017 ticked over, however, the changes just happened. 

That was then, this is now, my brain said, and it was easy.

This year I've made two key changes. One is this: turning off Facebook during my work hours. Oh, the time I have spent scrolling,  for very little purpose, with very little result. The second changes is this: starting work by doing a full hour of writing, first thing, even before I read my email.

It's easy enough to say 'first things first'. For some reason, it's much harder to actually do the important things first and prioritize them than to waste time faffing around on small details. Last year I felt I was struggling to find the time to write (which is ridiculous really, as I keep saying I'm 'a writer') In the last two weeks, though, since I've forced myself to start out writing at the very beginning of the day, I've found myself enjoying it so much that I've been reluctant to stop and do the editing I need to do (which pays the bills). 

The change of year, with its fresh start, was enough to get my change in work habits started, and I'm appreciating the opportunities we create to 'start' things and then 'end' them as well, even though life keeps charging on relentlessly.

 

And please forgive me for the jumbled nature of this post: I am endeavouring to 'start' blogging again, despite my growing fears that everything that could ever possibly be said has already been said, and in better ways, by smarter people.

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