I wiped sleep and tears from the corners of my eyes and sat down on the floor.
My bones weary from a restless sleep and my mind exhausted from an endless parade of worrisome thoughts, I had decided—more out of desperation than any kind of spiritual aspirations—to dust off a rusty meditation practice.
Nights of insomnia and a period of depression had heightened the regular, day-to-day anxiety I unwillingly entertain, and hued the balance of parenting, college classes, work and sobriety with shadows that threatened ominously of failure. Depression, and its ever cunning co-conspirator, lack of sleep, tend (at least in my own experience) to chase all hope of logic out of my realm of existence.
I can’t remember what I was worried about that particular day, nor what had prompted me to thumb through an old notebook that I had carried through a stay at rehab almost a decade ago. But what I do remember, though, is this, a single phrase that caught my eye as I prepared to close my eyes for few moments of breathing.
Simply begin again.
Three simple words on an otherwise blank page, underlined. The following page was a list of vitamins I had planned to take upon my release from rehab and my presumed jump into a healthy life, the previous page a scribbled note to my son. There was no context, and the singular, concise phrase now thudded into my heart and mind.
That’s it, all I had to do: Simply. Begin. Again.
Every moment, if I had to.
Didn’t I already try to live my life one day at a time? Existing from one day to the next, restarting and reshaping each new day as it came was a part of my sobriety, as familiar to me as eating and breathing. Perhaps, when the world gets especially daunting, all I had to do was remind myself simply begin again. Start over, allowing room to forgive myself for past blunders and space to grow and bloom.
Start over, right then. That sleepless night had dragged into a late, frazzled morning, an endless list of chores awaited me, exams to study for, jobs to apply for, bills to pay, and all the day-to-day minutiae we all encounter seemed pathetically overwhelming.
It wasn’t an entirely new concept, or one that would immediately solve my problems. At that moment though, it brought what my tired heart needed most—stillness, hope, and direction, and a reminder that served me well in the months following.
Whatever task we are doing, whatever path, good or bad, that we have taken on a particular day, we can at any moment make a choice. We can simply begin again—begin breathing, begin to make different choices, began a task that is daunting us.
That day, I sat and completed my mediation practice, and went on to tackle one thing at a time, repeating a reminder to myself when I felt too tired, or when I said something crabby to my partner. When I just felt too overwhelmed, or unable to cope, I remembered that all I had one single solution to it all.
Simply begin again. Breathe, forgive, let go, continue.
No matter what the task at hand is, we can get through it with this in mind.
Author: Keeley Milne
Editor: Caitlin Oriel