Endings can be incapacitating and painful for a variety of reasons, most of which we never identify because we’re too caught up in the loss to see anything but the loss. We don’t really identify what we’re actually doing with whatever the ending is, or what the ending is actually doing to us because we’re too lost in the loss to even begin to consider any of that. The fact that something is ending becomes entirely consuming to the point that the ending is all that we can see. And because it’s all that we can see, the ending becomes an end in itself when directly ahead of us new beginnings are being forged from the very ending that we’re caught up in. And so, how do we learn to see a beginning being formed in the ashes of whatever end we’ve experienced? We might do that better by getting some obstructive thinking out of the way:
First, We Don’t Want to Lose Something
We tend to hate endings because many of our endings involve things that we don’t want to lose. Sure, there are many things that we’re glad to get rid of, but many times some ‘thing,’ or some person, or some life-phase played such a role in our lives that we can’t imagine going on without it. What we end up doing is seeing the loss within the agenda that we had created for that thing, or that person, or that life-phase, and we’ve not recognized a larger agenda that’s playing itself out so it can play other things in.
Second, We Fear That Whatever We’ve Lost Can Never Be Replaced
Then there’s the fear that what we’ve lost can never be replaced. There’s an immediate sense that losing something demands that it be replaced. There’s that sense where we don’t want to disturb the continuity of our lives and the rhythm that we’ve created. Maybe there is no way we can stop that. What we tend to miss is that replacement only serves to perpetuate the repetition of the past, where creating space for something new creates space for something fresh.
Third, Glorifying the End
Because we have to tolerate endings, we want them to be good and even glorious. If something’s going to end and we can’t stop it, we want to send it off with some sort of recognition or appreciation or final ‘hurrah.’ We can’t hold on to that which we’re losing, but we can make the end glorious to the point that the memory of it all will always stay with us. There’s nothing inherently wrong about bringing something to a close in a manner that’s celebratory, unless this becomes our one and total focus.
Fourth, We Fear That an Ending Might Be a Failure
What if the ending is really a failure? What if whatever it is that ended wasn’t really supposed to end, but it did because somebody screwed up somewhere? And it may well be that the loss did not have to happen, and maybe should not have happened at all. Yet, life is big enough and has ample room to take the most tragic mistakes and weave them into the most wonderful of opportunities if we let it do so.
Fifth, We Fear That There Will Be No New Beginning
So what if this is an end and nothing more than an end? What if life doesn’t go on, or there are no opportunities beyond this, or it all dies here? It is this very fear that makes most of our endings so terribly frightening. Yet, it is looking at the nature and fabric of life, and in the looking realize that things always find a way to go forward because there is always a place to go forward to.
An End as a Beginning in Disguise
Life is a relentless perpetuation of things arising out of things that have passed. There is the coming and the going. The uprooting and the planting. There is an unrelenting exchange that makes things unrelentingly new. But loss is only a precursor to something that we will soon gain. It might be different, it could take us in an entirely new direction, it may well be unfamiliar, but it is the next step picking up where the previous step left off. An ending is only a beginning in disguise.