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Starting over seems like such a fun way to escape a failure that is so great that one is better off moving. House. Job. City. Relationship. Career and even Country. (I’ve tried the job and country thing a couple of times. It’s expensive, in more ways than one!)

My story on this spans a couple of continents (I travelled a lot when I was younger) and ends with me sitting on a bollard on a dock in France, contemplating the wisdom of leaving passport and luggage behind and disappearing into the night.

I like to imagine that getting back on the boat saved me from some other fate-worse-than-death, but I’ll never know unless I get visited by the angel from “It’s a Wonderful Life”.

I wasn’t taught to run away from things, of course, but to face up to them. As a life policy, it’s a sound one, but it sure gets tiring and annoying, especially at 25 when feeling the net of maturing thoughts closing in. And wishing that I hadn’t been so damned brave all the time!

In wishful thinking, I am free to say that by escaping or running away, the mess gets left behind and there’s time to start over.

In reality, the mess comes too – hidden in a long-forgotten and discarded box or a book or a bag. I’ve noticed that chaos has a fantastic way of turning up just when it is least welcome.

The funny thing though about mess is that it’s a great place from which to create a new beginning because, while it’s crappy, there might be a nugget of value tucked away too.

So before the bollard and the hours on the dock, I’d gotten married to a not very nice man – surly abusive and very proud. We’d been on a little family tour of his original birthplace where older family members still lived.  It was on this trip that I learned to play ‘Yahtzee’ – in German.

After the bollard, I got back on the boat, flew home and toughed out a marriage that lasted about 18 months too long. Those 18 months were on the coat-tails of the preceding two years. Slow learner, me.

I sometimes imagine my life like a tapestry that flows out behind me in a long train as I wander from birth to death. It’s evident in some places that the weaving was weak. The quality of the repair is what says it all.

I haven’t always been a lover of the failures in my life – heaven knows I’m not alone in hoping that I can be perfect at something. Reality check, Joss. There is nothing perfect about living – and that is what is so beautiful about it! I get to try stuff and make a mess and play as if I were in a mud-puddle. I can get crap on my clothes, and I can look at life from the lovely perspective of ‘wabi-sabi‘.

These days I prefer ‘begin again’ to ‘starting over’. At least with ‘begin-again’, I choose the spot where I want to pick up, rather than try to go back to the very start and do it better. It feels more like stepping up and moving forward from where I’ve stumbled. 

Even so, it can take a while before dealing with the mess; having the courage to look at my role in the drama; digging inside to find what it is I want next: And a whole while longer to get on with it.

I have to say that while I enjoy personal growth and the insights that it brings, I haven’t always been good at the moving forward. I’ve managed to stay stuck in situations, looking for the way to make it OK for everyone else, while forgetting about what is OK for me.

So now my mantra for personal leadership is: Step Up. Fess Up. Clean Up. Move On.