Beginner’s Mind

Branka ValcicMy Journey2 Comments

Today, the artist in me is on the fritz. Self-doubt is wriggling its ugly head. What am I thinking having a blog? Who am I kidding? What do I have to offer?

I knew there were other blogs and other online material about getting off the hamster wheel of life, each one unique, each one offering precious nuggets of wisdom. But it wasn’t until today that I felt overwhelmed by how many there actually were! Consequently, Miss Self-doubt is screaming at me: Why would anyone want to read your blog instead of any of the other, better ones? Who do you think you are?

My husband reminds me that I am writing a blog for myself. This is absolutely true; I am writing a blog because I love it. Blogging is fun, creative, inspiring, and fulfilling. But if I didn’t want people to read what I wrote, I would have continued to write in my notebook! I am writing a blog for myself, true enough, but I am also writing it because I want other people to read what I write and to, in one way or another, be touched by what they’ve read. I love reading and I consider many of my favorite authors to be my teachers. My life has been touched and transformed by their works. Similarly, I would love for my writing to some day make a difference in a stranger’s life.

During my academic career, there were times I suffered from an Impostor Syndrome (i.e. when I didn’t believe I was good at what I did, when I felt I was a fraud), but after years of being an academic, I knew most of the time that I was good at what I did. What am I good at now?

Having done something for a long time, it is most likely that we’ve become experts in that thing that we’ve done for a long time. Off the hamster wheel and committed to not getting back onto one, I find myself doing things I am not an expert in, or doing new things, things I have never thought possible for me to do. These things, like blogging, are exciting and they enrich my life. But doing these things most of the time makes me feel like a beginner most of the time and this is NOT a comfortable feeling!

But it is also a gift!

Zen master Shunryu Suzuki talked and wrote about the beginner’s mind. In his famous book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, he says: “The mind of the beginner is empty, free of habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all possibilities.”

A mind in which anything is possible? A mind that allows me to explore the possibility of blogging and being good at it? That sounds really good.

Good morning my beginner’s mind!

I am reminded of a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, poet, and peace activist, “Our Appointment with Life, Discourse on Living Happily in the Present Moment” and I am determined to make the best of my appointment with Life!

I know Miss Self-doubt will visit again, but next time I will welcome her with open arms. Today, she made me see the gift of the beginner’s mind. Who knows what she’ll show me next time? She’ll be welcome so long as she makes her stay short and sweet.

I keep showing up and writing my blog with joy, for me… and for you.

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