One day I’ll be gone. This particular me. I imagine it’ll happen as a moment of walking toward the sunset, but there’ll probably be lots of beeping, expensive electronics, and unwieldy tubes, assuming I leave this Earth as a result of old age and not…
- my own hand,
- someone else’s hand,
- political one-upmanship (also known as war),
- a meteor,
- a shark,
- sexual bliss, or
- finally understanding that the Cosmic Joke is not on all of us, it is all of us, we’re just adept at mangling the punch lines.
A twisty intro all to say that there’s no shortage of ways to end the ambulatory assemblage of experiences we like to think of as our selves. Within those assemblages, entire universes of things begin and end.
So let’s talk about inevitable endings, but in a way that highlights beauty. The result of accepting these endings is that your life will noticeably improve.
We’ll get the big one out of the way. This is the one everyone runs from, flailing their arms the whole time.
But imagine how silly we’d feel running to escape a room that has no doors. There’d be a lot of pointless pinging off walls until we’re finally exhausted and have to rest.
That’s death. Rest. The dirt nap. The big sleep. Everything that was “us” leading up to that exit point will either equal “us in death” or “no more us” depending on how we look at it. (But that’s a question for poets, playwrights, charlatans, and priests.)
The only answer we need to concern ourselves with is this: we are here right now.
We have no idea where death is or how it’ll come, so rather than spend an inordinate amount of time fretting that we haven’t found its hiding place, we should work with what we have.
Live life. Living life improves life a hundredfold when it’s done without the mind and body on red alert for Mr. Snatch.
There are people dying literally in every region of this globe right now, but there are also people being born, people making love, people tasting soups, people trying on excellent dresses, even people hoping to find an answer or two on the World Wide Web.
Face that. Face it and feel freed from the constraints of worrying about something we can neither see, touch, taste, smell, or hear. I guarantee it will change things.
The late Octavia Butler, one of science fiction’s most incisive novelists, had this to say about change in her series concerning an eerily prescient near-future vision of the United States, Parable of the Sower:
All that you touch you change. All that you change changes you. The only lasting truth is change. God is Change.
Mutability means everything is subject to change, and in changing, ends.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Acquaintance turns into friendship turns into love. Seeds become saplings become trees become orchards become the cornerstone of societies.
Even something as simple and common as breakfast ends, regardless whether it’s our favorite part of the day or not.
Everything changes. Friendships, family dynamics, love lives – especially love lives, but we’ll get to that – they all experience the evolutionary process of change, and evolution follows no moral imperative. Change may be for the better in one aspect and/or detrimental in another.
Change ends things in order that things may grow. Embracing change rather than attempting to stifle it means we, too, are growing, akin to a tree growing ever taller, ever closer to its higher self.
That’s a win, my friends.
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Yes, we all speak of living an authentic life, but very often that means hoping nothing challenges us to actually extend ourselves outside our comfort zones.
Comfort zones exist solely to tell us that nothing will end; we’re safe; our bubbles are solid and built to last.
Lies. Nothing but lies.
Honestly, the only authentic life is one spent doing things we’ve never done before, AKA learning.
An authentic life sits still in contemplation, but never in fearful hope that it, like a titmouse in the wild, is never noticed.
If we accept that all things end, we accept the end of our comfort bubbles.
This opens our lives to so many wonderful discoveries that it’ll be difficult not regretting not having done it sooner, even though regrets, like hindsight, are plentiful but generally useless.
Devote energies, instead, to honestly being who we are: beings on this Earth eager to learn that there’s more to us than meets the eye.
Young love, if we’re fortunate, becomes old love. Are we ready for the aging process? Are we ready to acknowledge that the smooth, unblemished skin we caress with such fervor will become wrinkled, mottled, and covering brittle, achy bones?
Youthful love ends. Always. Maturity dictates it. Are we ready?
Mature love is love that asks questions, both inner and outer. Its answers often catch people off guard, because its answers are predicated on change:
- Is my lover who I fell in love with?
- Am I who they fell in love with?
- Are we still an equation, or is there imbalance?
- What has changed between us?
Knowing that love is nothing but big and tiny endings across all avenues of life allows for an expansion of the heart that, in turn, allows richer, more varied understandings of love to carry us along our life’s journey.
Love is the seed of all our endeavors. It is peace.
If we can accept peace as a thing subject to the currents and caprice of change (of endings and beginnings), we approach everything in life much less fearful of the “stuff” we’ve gathered into ourselves being taken away.
Acceptance At Last
Accepting that all things will end will:
- Improve your love life;
- Make you a more honest person;
- Embolden you to stop thinking of Death as the boogeyman under your bed;
- Prepare you for change and CHANGE, because the big and small don’t follow unalterable patterns or schedules, they just come. They end things. They end everything.
Is the word “ending” inherently negative? No. Endings are like mini Big Bangs of infinite possibilities, equal parts engines of creation and destruction.
Therein lies the secret fifth way of allowing endings to improve one’s life:
Don’t assume an end is a bad thing.
Our trepidations make endings feel like dark woods and haunted basements, when the truth is the total opposite: Everything ends, and then – changed – they begin again.