"Zero is a powerful number. It's the great equalizer. Everyone starts at zero. Even Oprah started with zero fans and followers. It's where you go from zero that makes the difference," writes Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA. "In fact, I would argue that the step from zero to beginner is a thousandfold bigger than going from newbie to expert."
You could say that the past six months of my life have been defined by the number zero: from taking an online writing class, to starting a memoir, to working with a web designer and illustrator to create this site, and, now, my first official writing job as a contributor for Design*Sponge. In each of these experiences I find myself blindly forging a path entirely unknown to me. And until the job offer from Design*Sponge, it wasn't so scary because it was done entirely from the safety of my home, while sitting on my blue couch (often with a cat sleeping on my lap while I balanced the lap top on my knee). Only now I find myself having to leave this cozy security to learn new skills like networking across social media, knowing that soon my words will be published for hoards of people to see. Holy shit! I don't mind starting at zero so long as I don't end up a big fat zero.
And then I went to hear live music at the Gryphon Theater in Laramie this past weekend and found my confidence (in me, and in starting from zero) restored. The night featured nine bands across an array of genres. My favorite was a duo I'd seen several times in Laramie: two guys, two guitars, telling stories through song. The times I'd seen them before, spanning nearly two years, I thought they were good musicians. But I can't say I thought much more than that. But on Saturday night these two guys rocked the stage, hell, the entire night. To borrow a phrase from the theologian Marcus Borg, it was like "seeing them again for the first time." Their guitar playing was interesting and complex. Their vocals were harmonious and tight. Their charisma, I mean, there are no words. What happened? How did they become an entirely different band?
"That's my take-away from last night" I told Micah, after going on and on about this band while driving to the nearby Snowy Range mountains.
"What?" he asked.
"Not to forget about the process. And the practice."
Once in the mountains we unpacked our lawn chairs and placed them next to a mountain stream. The current was strong, overflowing with the run off from the winter's snowmelt. Micah read his book on the Berlin Olympics and I contemplated how the stagnant snow once on a mountain peak had trickled down the mountain to become this mighty stream. As a perfectionist I expect myself to go from zero to 60 overnight (you know, an overnight sensation). When I don't I feel that I've failed. But watching the Laramie band grow and progress over two years into a top notch, unforgettable band reminds me to leave room (and time) to get better. And I will. We all do. With practice and intention we get better. And not just better, but mighty...a sensation.
Think of a time in your life when you started at zero but with time and intention experienced growth.
Is there some place right now in your life where you feel inspired to start from zero?