Never Ending by John Andrew
In 2006 I was a divorced parent of two young boys. I had seen the end of that relationship coming because there were too many detour signs away from what makes a relationship healthy or at least what the songs, magazines, and hours of therapy and Oprah define as healthy.
That same year brought another ending, one I did not see and was totally unprepared for. My best friend Michael was murdered at a place that we had spent countless hours at as young men. His killer was never caught and he became another statistic. It happened on December 23 and when the news came I became numb. To this day his death forces me to think not only about closure but about the end itself.
We celebrate new beginnings: marriage, birth, new hairstyles, jobs and lovers.
Endings can be a little more problematic.
The end of a vacation, a relationship or anything to which we are attached often brings tears and with that pain. And while we acknowledge that our time is finite we often want a world without end because of the uncertainty endings bring.
But what I am learning as I journey through my fourth decade is that endings can become a point of rediscovery. They can animate us and they can serve to reconnect us with our true selves. Yes, it requires that we unearth dreams and maybe take risks but an ending can also really inspire us to go after what we want with a youthful enthusiasm. I’ve found that if we treat with endings head on they can unlock a fuller and truer self.
As a Buddhist I am reminded by the teaching that life is signified by constant change. Some of us lose weight, or as in my case, gain. What was once dark, like hair for instance, can become grey and as life itself becomes more transparent old photographs become touchpoints for laughter, recognition and acceptance.
As we age we come face to face with ourselves in a more pragmatic way and through all the beginnings and endings we know that we never really change who we intrinsically are if we stay connected to those lessons we were taught, and those things we held as ideals.
Two years ago I discovered again the link between ending and renewal. The woman who shepherded me into manhood died and her passing allowed me to rekindle a close friendship that I once had at 16 with a girl I once loved. As a young man my aunt had nurtured our youthful dreams and protected our vulnerabilities with her quiet personality and deep wisdom. In her passing, we rediscovered what we loved about her and by extension each other.
With endings, I am reminded that even though life is characterized by impermanence and change, a loss can be the impetus for rediscovery and possibility.