Over these last few months, I have been approached to teach inexperienced women how to ride motorcycles. Although I have said yes to about three separate requests, I have yet to meet a woman in an empty parking lot on an early Sunday morning. The desire to begin something new and the action of beginning something new requires two distinct ways of being. Not to say that one cannot lead to the other. Desire may lead to action; however, desire does not necessitate action.
The desire to tackle a new activity where one is a beginner again requires a new way of being. Perhaps, an uncomfortable mindset. Perhaps, too laborious.
Is that not where growth lies?
More than a dozen years ago, during his Stanford commencement address, Steve Jobs shared a valuable piece of advice to budding graduates: "The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter into one of the most creative periods of my life."
Being a beginner unearths two dusty skills.
Failure is frustrating. Failure is scary. It conjures up all sorts of feelings. Just typing the word hurts. It'a punch in the gut. It's like playing -- mercy -- mercy -- mercy -- all over again. It's a giant, gooey piece of humble pie. I don't know anyone who initiates a conversation by asking, "What have you failed at today?"
Patience eases some of that bitter taste left by that fat, ever-present F. When we become a beginner again, we have to make room grace. We have to be okay with not having all the answers, and we have to be okay with not knowing all the right questions to ask. It's being young all over again.
While I wait for those women to embrace beginner-hood, I have decided to lead by example, for 2018 has turned out to be a begin again kind of year.
Never... ever... ever did I see myself swinging a club.
Then, it happened.
A book -- purchased and shipped by my youngest sister -- followed by a discussion with a former golf superintendent -- followed by a four-day conference at a state park with a course -- and -- voila -- I found myself learning a new sport.
I am a beginner again, and I am okay with all the failures that come with it. I feel especially sorry for those iron clubs doubling as small spades on the driving range. Golf requires a lot -- an awful lot -- at one time. Grip, stance, distance, movement, swing, mental state, equipment... the list goes on and on.
Here's what I noticed myself doing as I began this challenging venture:
I made strange connections.
(Sway my hips like I do in salsa dancing?)
I gripped the club too hard.
(What is this saying about my approach to life?)
I swung the club too fast.
(Why am I in such a hurry?)
I took too long before swinging.
(Why am I overthinking this? Just make contact with the ball.)
I wanted to save every ball.
(Why not just take the penalty stroke and move on?)
Did I feel a sense of freedom like Steve Jobs?
Yes, in the sense that I could make mistakes often and at-will.
No, in the sense that I realized I had yet to silence that self-critical voice.
Beginner-hood reveals layers of who we are at the core: the resilient, the creative, the gritty, and the mucky.
I have a few other beginner-hood plans for 2018: dirt bike riding and middle-school teaching.
Until then, I will stick with golfing. I enjoy the individual challenge the sport brings. Plus, I appreciate the one consolation it provides: as I approach the next hole, a new opportunity to begin again begins.