Endings can feel like a mini-death. Break-ups, the end of the year, moving out of a home full of memories, the loss of a beloved job. Endings can be painful; it signifies change which is often resisted and resented—it is no wonder that it is something to avoid or prolong indefinitely.
The painful necessity of change
In resisting change, a dim complacency sets in and we enter a comfort zone that feels safe. We get accustomed to the monotony and routine of our lives and begin to believe that this is the only option available to us. While this safety has its advantages, it can lead to feelings of boredom and restlessness. If we are unwilling to take risks, how else can something new and even more exciting be welcomed? Although change is painful, it is ever necessary. What’s perceived as painful and undesirable often paves the way for something better—and, if not better, at least different. In difference, lies life’s momentum and progress. Endings are meant to be full. Full of grief and satisfaction; full of laughter and tears. To experience them as such requires an openness to tolerating the necessary parts of ourselves that beg for growth, and openness to both the good and bad that life throws our way.
Endings wake us up to the importance of life
Endings come at a juncture between the past and the future. That space is rare and, for the most part, difficult to engage with. We can get so caught up in the beginning or ending of a relationship, project, or book, that we may not even realize that our lives are only this present moment where beginnings and endings are the same thing. The beginning was actually our birth, the end is our death. The real ending we fear and resist is our own. Contemplation of the horror of our inevitable death is, paradoxically, the tincture that adds sweetness to life. Engaging with life means engaging with the thing that gives us life: fulfilling relationships with others and with ourselves.
Growth and change can begin at any time
A commonly quoted aphorism says, “New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.” Maybe I should have started this blog at the end in hopes of softening the pain you’ve just endured. But in actuality, this quote is a reminder that without endings, there are no beginnings. You had to stop what you were doing in order to even find your way here. You took the risk, albeit it a low risk, in finding out if my thoughts resonated with yours. If they did, maybe you are more satisfied than you were before. If they didn’t, maybe there is a sense of loss. Either way, here is an opportunity for growth.