We have the opportunity to start over at any moment, but we rarely see the value of it.
Actually, every morning, we start over. Our routines may be predictable in terms of what we need to accomplish every day, but then again it's always worth questioning whether to what degree those routines are necessary or even beneficial. How we choose to move through our routines is a choice we make, sometimes consciously, but over time many of us have ended up operating on auto pilot and we miss so much of life.
Sometimes we forget that we have a choice in the matter. We end up repeating the same patterns and routines: same breakfast, same clothes, same routes to and from our usual destinations, same people, same way of thinking and behaving.
When how we respond to life's invitations becomes circumscribed, life not only becomes dull, it becomes lifeless. And we stop seeing the world from a potentially different, more open perspective. That means we have fewer new ideas, become less adept at problem solving and lose our ability to be resilient and flexible.
There's nothing wrong with routines and predictability per se; they make life a lot easier if we know what the weather will be or when we need to get somewhere or do something. But when those routines hold us back from our true potential to live life with feelings of aliveness and discovery and wonderful-things-yet-to-be-discovered, then it's time to take a fresh look at what we're doing.
What could it mean to start over?
One way to look at it is to recognize that you always have an opportunity to get the best out of yourself (however you define that) and ask what else is possible for you. Embracing your innate ability to begin again. And again. There are so many words that point to this capacity we all have: creativity, inventiveness, curiosity, a sense of wonder.
All of those qualities or capacities belong to every one of us, no matter how young or old we are, no matter our circumstances, gender, race. We all tend to underestimate our ability to surprise ourselves or discover new skills or talents or interests we never knew could be possible.
For many people, starting over has a negative connotation. What, again? we say. And we make the process a grind instead of an adventure. Too many of us have an internal dialogue that says it's too much effort, too little return, we don't have what it takes.
Nonsense! Regardless of when those words turned into our belief system, in actuality there is nothing more wonderful than discovering our beautiful capacity to have what the zen tradition calls beginners mind, which goes something like this:
"In the beginner's mind, there are endless possibilities. In the expert's mind, there are only a few."
What that phrase suggests is that we can all drop our preconceived ideas and expectations and see the world with a fresh perspective and an open mind, just as any beginner of any skill or craft would do. And we all have had that feeling of accomplishment and expansive when we discover we can do something we (or someone else) talked ourselves out of trying.
Starting over has no inherent connotations of failure or being wrong or inadequate. It's actually not about us or our self worth at all. It's about expanding our experience of the world, seeing how much more there is to being alive than just getting through the day or getting lost in worry or anger.
And in this time when the world we took for granted is in a state of massive change, starting over is the best thing we could possibly do.