Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Chaim Potok once wrote, “All beginnings are hard.”

I’m not so sure that’s true.

I’ve rarely had trouble beginning things. The harder part, for me, is continuing. The harder part is taking that next step after the first. That’s the one that requires commitment and perseverance.

When you start a project in crochet, you need to begin with a foundation chain. It isn’t difficult to learn, but it can be tricky, even when you’re experienced at it--for instance, keeping your tension even so that your loops all come out the same size. But it’s the second row that many beginning crocheters have the most trouble with. For this row you need to work a stitch into each of the loops in the starting chain. The first trouble spot will arise right away if you haven’t made the starting chain loose enough: trying to work the hook into each loop. You also need to keep the chain itself from twisting so that you’re always working into the front of the loop. Step 2 is quite a challenge for the newbie.



Novelist Ann Hood, writing about learning to knit, called herself a “good beginner.” And, in fact, it isn’t always how long you’ve been doing something that determines whether you’re a beginner, because in a sense we’re always beginners as long as we’re always learning.

I’ve come up with some things I feel I’m a “perpetual beginner” at.

I am:

  a beginning runner

a beginning crocheter

a beginning writer

a beginning bike rider

a beginning digital photographer

I don’t feel I’m denigrating myself by calling myself a beginner at all these things.  It’s kind of like being a perpetual student, which I always thought I was. It’s acknowledging that there’s always more to learn, always higher levels to get to. Unless it’s the thing you earn your living at, in which mastery is necessary, it’s okay to remain a beginner in some things. In fact, it rather keeps things interesting and challenging—and challenges are good for the mind. They keep us from getting complacent and stagnant.

Not to suggest that I’ve never made any progress in anything. I have become a better editor, which is how I make my living. When I was bowling, I got better and better and raised my average considerably. I’ve progressed from walking to jogging to being able to run a 6.2-mile race. As a student I earned two degrees. As a writer I’ve had a few publications and am continuously working on a novel.

I take some pride in these accomplishments, but I don’t feel I need to be perfect at everything I like to do. Whatever level we reach in any activity depends on a lot of things: our interest, our ability, the time we have to put into practicing it, our willingness to commit.

But it’s never a “mistake” to have begun something new and not continued.

It isn’t failure if we decide it’s not for us.

It isn’t failure if we keep on doing it at one level if we’re enjoying it at that level.

We don’t all have to be competers, even with ourselves.

It’s okay to be a beginner!
What things do you consider yourself a "beginner" at?


  1. True of so many tasks I begin and do not continue, from organizing my office to doing various chores.

  2. I really liked your post on beginnings. I often think I'm a failure if I begin something, decide it's not for me and quit. Your post gave me a different perspective. I like your idea of beginning meaning less of a novice and more of the idea of it being fresh, new and exciting. I'm always most enthusiastic about something when I start and continuing and persevering is the hard part. Good to look at it as a beginner would with fresh newness. I will try to do that instead of getting complacent, frustrated and bored as sometimes happens.