At first glance, I’m not a big fan of endings. Whether it’s a relationship, project, or year, I have a hard time sticking around until the end.
It’s normal for things to run their course, but for me, when the ending is on the horizon, my first instinct is to bolt.
Why? Because the final phase is uncomfortable. It requires a tending to. It necessitates a letting go. It invites a sense of loss, which often brings sadness. And rather than face these things, it’s often easier to leave prematurely.
Allow me to share a recent experience to illustrate my point.
This fall, I participated in a writing circle that lasted for 13 weeks. At week 11, we had a public reading of our work. Energetically, this felt like a culmination of the class. After that, I was ready to be done. But, by design*, we had two more classes remaining to gather, process our experience, and say good bye to our writing mates.
These last two weeks, I found myself not wanting to go. Why? Because the structure of the class allowed room for conscious closure, which contains an element of laboriousness. Conscious closure requires a knitting up of loose ends, which can feel tedious. At a basic human level, most of us would rather just get on with the next thing.
Despite my resistance, however, I chose to show up. I sat my ass on the pillow and rode out the diminishing energy of closure. I tolerated the sentimentality of goodbyes and gratitudes. I even named my resistance aloud, and discovered I wasn’t alone. This affirmed to me that difficulties with endings may be a common challenge of the human condition.
Experiences are like stories, in that they follow an arc. Simply put, there’s a beginning, climax, and ending.
The beginning contains rising action in which tension and anticipatory excitement builds.
The climax is where the action comes to a peak.
The conclusion is where the energy tapers off and the story comes to a resolution.
A year can be seen in this light, too. We begin each year with anticipatory excitement, new intentions, hopes and dreams for what we will create in the months ahead. Our year may contain one or more climaxes, peak events such as a vacation, a success in our work life, a birth, or a wedding, to name a few. And then the year winds down to a close. The Winter Solstice is the darkest night, an invitation to turn within before we transition to the increasing light in the new year.
It’s interesting that exchanging gifts at year’s end is a tradition. I think there’s something about this ritual that helps us see that there is beauty in closure. If we rush ahead or run away to avoid it, we miss out on these gifts.
So I invite you at the close of this year to stick with it until the end. Look back at the story arc that unfolded for you over the past twelve months.
BEGINNING: What were you hoping for early on?
CLIMAX: What were your peak experiences?
ENDING: How is your year resolving as it draws to a close?
On the final day of my writing circle, we did a beautiful gift exchange. Each woman was invited to bring a small gift to offer. We wrote notes from our gift to be read by the recipient. Then we did a random exchange in which each woman serendipitously received the gift that was meant for her. The gift I received was a beeswax candle in a glass votive surrounded by 4 delicate seashells. The note attached read:
I am a light bearer.
I bring with me the sweetness of honeybees, the saltiness of ocean beaches, and the warmth of a fireside.
I have appeared to tell you that this, too, shall pass out of your life,
But its season will come again in a way familiar or new.
I bring you light for the journey.
I’m so glad I stuck around until the end.
*This writing circle followed the model of Women Writing for (a) Change®
If you're an entrepreneurial woman who would like to explore your creativity in a group that incorporates practices of conscious community, I'm offering a book study/writing circle based on Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert, starting January 18, 2018. We still have a few spots open. You can check out all the details here.
Author and Branding Consultant
I am passionate about helping mission-centered business owners share their message through compelling written and visual content.
My memoir, What I Gave to the Fire, is available in both print and Kindle formats on Amazon.com.