Wandering past this piece of street art the other day, I was drawn to the face and the detail of the design, and almost didn’t notice the writing:


It got me thinking…

Preparation is a wonderful thing. There are so many sayings in popular culture about ‘reaping what we sow’ and ‘planning for success’ that these things seem an important part of the process.

But how do you know when to move on to the next part of that process – the doing bit?

How do you know when you’re ready?

Ready to begin something.

Ready to strive for something.

Ready to let something go.

Perhaps it’s worth investigating all of that a little more…

What does being ‘ready’ even mean for you?

Does readiness mean preparing for every possible eventuality that may come, before you take the first step (and planning for them all in advance, drawing up giant flowcharts of possible problems and solutions in your mind)?

Or is it about being ready enough? (Good enough).

What are the usual signs that you’re ready?

Where do you feel it / sense it / know it?

And are there times, like in the photo, that you feel ‘neveready’? Never quite ready enough to dive in. Perhaps ever caught in the planning or in a spirit of not-there-yet. Stuck standing on the edge of the pool, looking in.

It can be tempting to imagine that we have all the time in the world to prepare and polish our attempts at things before we even start them. To try to become ‘experts’ before we dare to begin.

And it can be comforting to procrastinate and avoid facing the possibility of ‘failure’ (or not succeeding in the way we’d prefer to).

A lovely distraction, then, to keep honing the dream while never quite bringing it into the realms of reality.

Sometimes I’ve caught myself doing this – saving difficult or daunting things for ‘later’ (that almost magical time, that’s always a long way away), as if there are an infinite amount of ‘laters’ to choose from.

Yet there will come a time for all of us when our chance of ‘later’ looks pretty slim. At some stage, our days, our life (as we currently know it), and our ‘laters’ seem like they’ll all run out.

In light of that, the idea of eternally putting things off or never being quite ready starts to take on a deeper meaning… And ‘never’ suddenly seems a very long time indeed.

So perhaps there’s a place for sometimes beginning something before it’s perfectly ready. Perhaps even before you feel perfectly ready.

Just to begin.

After all, as Leonard Cohen reminds us, perhaps perfect readiness or perfect results aren’t where the richness lies anyway:

‘Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in’.

(And that sounds like something it might be easier to be ready for…)

Photo: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Artwork: Sydney Street Artist

Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also co-facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She is the editor of a journal on counselling and psychotherapy, the author of a private practice blog, and she provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.