You are starting out. Maybe you are an infant, starting out a lifetime. Maybe you are starting on a new hobby or large project or a marriage. You might have chosen to start, or maybe you had no choice.
These are some things that will happen.
- Phase One: At first you will not be afraid because you don’t understand the risks. You have not seen anything go wrong, you have not experienced it. Your body and your spirit are unblemished, at least as far as this thing you start on. You have youth, either literally or figuratively, and so you naturally feel invulnerable.
- Phase Two: After some time, it could be a very long time, things go wrong. For you or for the person next to you. You will see or experience pain or dismay or shame. There may be wreckage. This phase may be repeated.
- Phase Three: After enough harsh dosing (the exposure required to move you to this next stage depends on an alchemy of your nature, your age and the damage done to you by experience), you will begin to be afraid or discouraged or both.
- This is the critical juncture. Will you carry on?
- This is where many people abandon their projects or their hobbies or their passions or their lives.
- This is why healthy, strong, middle-aged people grow timid and become spectators and accept a growing impotence.
- Phase Four: If you carry on, there will ensue an awkward period. It may be quite long or it may be short, depending on your determination to get away from the discomfort, your acumen and the kind of magic that attends you. Something has driven you to persist and you may not know what. You may feel you will only ever be awkward and afraid and vulnerable to damage but also unable to stop moving and you may think you are cursed or insane. You may be. Day will follow day and there will be bleakness. You will cycle back again and again to the decision point and have almost infinite chances to give up. Mostly, you won’t.
- Phase Five: If you still carry on, something will change. You might gain some skill. Maybe you will become inured to the risks by sheer exposure. Maybe you begin to understand that existence is a risk — of pain, of damage, of destruction — and those risks in your particular project are only incremental additions to the risks of breathing. Having come this far, age may help you by passing you over the frightened precipice of middle age into the zone where death could come any time anyway and you may as well die trying.
- Note: if you have decided not to carry on but are still breathing, this may become the zone of increasing frailty instead. You will move to a one-story house, away from ice and snow, and be suspicious of strangers and expect dinner at the same time every night and watch only remakes.
- Phase Six: I can’t tell you what happens next because I have only peeked through the curtain. I believe you will settle into honing your skill or enjoying your journey or sitting in companionable silence. Even if no less awkward and inept, you will be less plagued by fear and anxiety. There will still be setbacks and confusion and failures, you may even slip back a stage or two, but having passed through once, you are likely to carry on.
- Miscellaneous: Passage from phase to phase will not be linear or predictable. Inside any given phase, you will not be able to see to an earlier or a later one. You will have only faith and whatever it is that drives you. A journey through on one project will help you get through on new and different ones.