“…Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.”
It’s almost the end of the semester and people are talking about endings. Graduation. Commencement. Retirement. Transfer. The worry that there is unfinished business, that the end will come before we’ve had time to say goodbye properly and tie up all the loose ends hangs around the corners of the mind. Anxiety runs so high that some want to melt away without saying goodbye at all, to go away for the weekend and just not come back.
This stress of endings, does it come from a deeply buried fear of death? Do we worry about all the things we won’t get done because deep down we know there are dozens of things we will never, ever get done? Long ago, I used to imagine that grown up competence would be a state of perfect organization, in which I would finish tasks completely and on time. Life seems to have taught me that the older you grow, the larger and more unmanageable the list becomes of things one “ought” to do, and the real key is to work out what is inevitably going to fall down the back of the desk eventually, and just give it a push. The things that really matter get done. The rest is a distraction.
Looking back and enumerating things not done is the way to despair. But look at all the things that are done. The children somehow raised, the qualifications imperfect but complete, the house that is untidy but not actually falling down, the tasks accomplished, even if the filing is not done, the friendships that survive a hiatus when life intervenes.
Graduating, retiring, transferring, moving. Instead of stressing about the end, look ahead with joy. And leave some of those ends untied, because these are, in fact, new beginnings.