Starting over

In his last record, released in 1980, John Lennon included a song whose title I find most inspiring: “Starting over“.

 

The song is about how a long-time couple should start over in their relationship and do things they used to do in their early days, as if they were falling in love again with each other. He sings that “life flies so quickly” and also that “it’s time to spread our wings and fly”.

 

It’s a beautiful song I’m sure he dedicated to his beloved wife Yoko Ono,  the more poignant because he was murdered soon after the release of that album as we all know.

 

I was listening to the song and wondering why it’s so important to start over, be it in love or in our life in general.

 

When we are young it’s fairly easy to start over: after a lost love, on a different job, with a new friend, moving to a new house or even to another city. But as we grow older, we seem to fear change and many times, even if dissatisfied with our lives, we hang on to what we have for fear of the unknown. We even tend to criticize people who, later in life, have the courage to make major changes such as breaking up  marriages of several decades, or leaving successful executive careers simply because business trips and high level conferences no longer mean anything to them, making them understand they want something very different from life. One day they wake up and they simply know they cannot go on as before – that means starting over.

 

In some cases, it will mean reinventing ourselves and doing whatever is closer to our heart. It may be volunteer work, painting, theatre or writing, or building a totally different career whatsoever.

 

Other times starting over is not a choice – it is a consequence of something that life imposes on us. We may have to start over after a disease or retirement or unemployment. I have seen my friend Gabi start over after a painful divorce, a kidney transplant, and then over again when her new kidney stopped working; then after learning she had breast cancer and once again when she overcame it. She has started over so many times, a true champion, always with a smile on her face and an indomitable will to go on enjoying life to the full.

 

Most of the times change is not easy. Even when we know we want to change, change may not present exactly as we hoped it would, or as easily as we would have wished. Still, it is a learning process, and one that will leave us richer, if not financially, certainly in terms of personal growth.

 

Even if you don’t need a major change, you can always start over little by little, each part of your life at a time: giving your relationship a new boost with a romantic dinner and a totally honest conversation with your partner about what you would like to change; surprising your children with a smile at a time when they would expect a negative reaction from you; telling your best friends you love them without any particular reason for doing so or suddenly accepting to join them for an early morning breakfast on a Saturday when only a few weeks ago you swore you’d never miss a chance of sleeping late on weekends.

 

Starting over is opening to life, is taking a new attitude and allowing yourself to see things differently, if only for a while. It’s about having the courage to go out there and take the things you want for yourself, not simply sitting down waiting for them to happen.

 

For years I felt I needed change in my life. When it came to me, in the shape of disruption in my professional life, I decided to embrace it, no matter the difficulties it might bring. I am starting over, and it’s a feeling of exhilaration, of doing so many new things at 56, of having more time to myself and above all more freedom to decide what to do with it.

 

As John Lennon sings, “time flies so quickly” and we have to make the most of it while we have the chance. It was unfortunate that he lost his life so early, a unique singer and composer, a man who was so clearly in love but even so wanted to start over, over and over again. He will live on in his song, inspiring us to embrace change, to reach out for what we want, to go out there and live life to the full. The way we want to.

 

This is exactly what I am doing. Spreading my wings and flying. Starting over.

 

 

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