What was going on in 1946? Charles de Gaulle resigns as president of France and the first United Nations meeting was held. The British Housing Act also passed providing subsidies for over 800,000 local authority houses and a similar wave for housing construction swept the US and Canada that year as a part of the war effort.
How society translates words can make one quite curious. So it seems worth it to take a deep dive into this word, especially since it’s the beginning of a new year.
I spoke with Sam Callahan, New York Comedy TV writer, this time about the word “start”.
Have a look at our conversation that leads us through an artistic path of processes, images of triangles and ongoing talk of roller coasters. See if you can spot how we could, perhaps, get through the challenge of the “start”.
Sam has hair like my aunt - a fluff of unruly blond waves. In our writing co-working group she usually gathers it up in a single puff on top. Before our 45 min-write to 15 min-break routine goes underway, all 14 of us take turns explaining what we plan to work on for that session. Usually it's a revision of a play here, edit a novel there but Sam says she’s rescripting a comedy piece for a TV pilot. During what should have been 45 min of work, Sam and I bombarded the chat box with "oh-my-gods" and "I can't believe you are from the Bay Area toos" and the curious, "how did you become a TV writer?"
We've stayed in touch since last year and today I call her on Zoom to talk about Tarot cards and online dictionaries before diving into the interview. How did we get from there to nerding out on infinity notebooks and multi-planners?
I finally flip to a new page in my book to take some notes for our interview.
“Sam, when you see the word, start, what does it look like?”
"Hummm... " She blows out smoke while she takes a cigarette break on the porch.
“...crossing edges...” One of her cats floats across her screen.
"What do you mean by that?"
"Its a term my life coach uses. It’s like when you come up to an edge, you’re at a precipice or something. In a big way, I’m about to email my boss asking him if I can be on set….ok? It’s a new thing...a scary thing...I’m putting myself out there, out of the gate. So once I send the email, I then, ‘cross the edge.’
“...it’s like a triangle...” She must she my brows knitted and explains more.
The imagery in my head is a triangle. So whatever the action is, that’s the triangle...and the edge crossing it, that’s the scary bit. You approach the edge, then it’s all downhill.
“So if it’s a triangle, which edge are you crossing?”
“The top. The peak….you’re like falling over the peak. Her voice heightens, “Like in a roller coaster. You go up and up and up and up….then you go….wooooooooooooo...scholk!”
I’m trying not to laugh but I love that she is reliving the feeling of falling from that peak. Her sound effects are complete with the roller coaster braking sound, “scholk”, at the end to let out passengers.
“Do you like roller coasters Sam?”
"In actuality, I do actually really like roller coasters...I really like roller coasters."
“What was your first-est ... best-est roller coaster ride....like the thing?” I'm looking at my notes, did I really say...first-est and best-est? Oh god.
“My first one was Medusa, the highest, at Six Flags New Jersey but the best one was the Batman and the Superman. The Superman one you get strapped in standing up and they turn you over on your belly...there's nothing underneath you...it's like you're flying” (before you start the ride). I’m thinking Sam likes to scare herself...or fly, or both.
“The best experience one though, was when I was at a cheer competition and California Adventure opened the park after hours for all the cheerleaders so there was a lot of...peer pressure." She pauses. She said there was one ride that starts on the ground, count-down and goes from 0-60 mph in like a millisecond. I don't remember the name but it was "the" ride. It shot you into nowhere..." She laughs and adds, "...but left your stomach behind."
“The entire time I was in line, I was like “no no nope, I’m not gonna do this, absolutely not. What am I doing. Why am I in line?"
“Wait...but why?” I was curious why she was still in line. Sam comes back into the house and scoops up her black cat.
“Because it’s terrifying...terrifying. I get so scared. But I like it. And then I get on it and have so much fun. And I get in line again and I think, ‘nope, nope, nope.’ And go through the same thing again.”
I look up, reflecting on my upcoming creative projects. I wonder if I could use a sort of adrenaline shot like that to help myself up that ridge of the “start.” I suspect I could take on challenges that actually create that rush...I guess...for the possibility of achieving a goal...
She continues in a stop start motion, almost like the ride she’s describing. “If I can-I always try to get into the front row-cause there’s something amazing-cause it’s that crossing edge feeling-except thrilling-feeling." Now slower she inclines back on her couch, “Sooo you’ve got the fear...and then you are coming up to the edge...
Ee-rr-ee--rr--ee--rr”...like literally (climbing) up to the literal edge (like the coaster on the hill)-and then as you start to tip over, cause the rest of the car’s going in-there’s a second...you hang there before it falls. Her voice trails off. There's only the sound of me scribbling in my notebook left.
I look back up and she jets, “...And you don’t usually feel it as much when you’re in the back. When you’re in the front, you’re dangling over and you can see the slope...of the tracks going down....and you’re like...oh my god...ohmygodohmygod-ahhhhhhhhhhhh…. She plays back the sound of the drop.
"...And that feeling - that’s my favorite part ever.”
I wonder if I could use a sort of adrenaline rush like that to help myself up that ridge of the “start.”
In the beginning of our call, Sam related the word “start” to "an edge”. When we got to the image of "a triangle" she made it seem like the work came in climbing to the top of that triangle ...that process of getting so close to that edge. Then we just simply "drop over and the rest is easy". I am constantly amazed how these examinations always start with the same question, then take us in different directions.
Now I'm curious. I make a big asterisk and note to brainstorm challenges or ways to get that roller coaster adeline rush that could perhaps get me up to that ‘edge’. Why not take it as a literal prescription for achieving goals?
Maybe watch these roller coaster videos for an adrenaline rush every morning...or do a version of the ice bucket challenge! I'm sure Richard Branson or Elon musk must do something like a plane dive as their "climb" to the edge.
But I must say, it's my goal for you, the reader, to make your own conclusions during this series, to see about how this simple examination could inspire you and your creative business.
Here were other interesting things I got out of my conversation with Sam about my own process of goal setting.
Start means getting to the edge: the tippi-est tip of that triangle example she used. Then the rest is easy. They say, the more you stick your feet in, the more that cold water becomes temperate, the more tempered becomes warm. The first time I read the beginnings of my memoir out loud in front of others, for example, I felt there was like an iron printing press in my chest working overtime. I was panicked! I'm hoping it will get easier. Someone advised me once to set a rule of 5. Repeat the smallest, most minute part of a task from your project five times - to not worry about the result of actual project. I set a small challenge of reading aloud five paragraphs, five different times in my writing group. I’m on the second time. I even panicked more than the first! I’m waiting for the third time next week. I can’t wait until it gets easier. I close my eyes and….start just by finding the part I want to read on my document. Then repeat.
Maybe I'll try getting to the edge with Facebook too. Posting on social media isn’t easy right? It’s like putting yourself out there. Maybe I can take the most minute part of that task and do it 5 times like with my reading. Maybe that means I take (or edit) one image each day for 5 days and save it in a folder for future business banners. That's it. Maybe I revise one part of my profile everyday for 5 days. I am just sticking my feet in, feeling the temperature, climbing to the edge. One day when I feel up to posting just one image, It’ll be ready. Then I'll repeat it for five days. If five is too much, I'll try 3!
The more small challenges I do, the more I know I will meet my 2021 goals. Write now I’m doing a "wake up everyday at 5am, 6 days a week" challenge. Sigh….2 days done, 4 to go. I also created a crazy 21 day blog challenge! I’ve never written so many posts in a week before!
What small challenges or measured changes in your everyday routine is on your list to achieve this year?
*start (v.): https://www.etymonline.com/word/start
By the way, you know Google of course has everything, even a video of the Incredicoaster from California Adventurer Theme Park Sam talks about. I found a point of view shot from the front row!
Click here to see. Talk about an adrenaline rush for the morning! Nineteen sec in, at the depart, I’m excited. At minute 1:50 I’m yelling in my apartment at 8am, reliving the ‘ohmygodohmygod-ahhhhhhhhhhhh’ moment from Sam’s story. What a way to go from zero.... to ‘start'?
You can connect with Sam and hear more stories on twitter, on her Patreon page or on a TV set in New York.