On endings

Unlike beginnings, which are plenty scary by themselves, endings are often poignant and solitary. You drive off, you walk away from an airport, you get on a train or bus, you stroll down a street never to come back. A car door slams, you lock the door and turn away. It’s over. We have all been through our share of endings–a job, a school, a friendship, a life–so we all have our anecdotes about moving on, saying goodbye, and picking up the broken pieces so that we can start again. Endings make us wistful and nostalgic because we are not always sure that the new thing ahead of us is better than what is being left behind. We are plagued by our memories which torture us into remembering all of those great moments in the past when we were, at least for a moment, happy. The constant truth is that all things end, no matter how we feel about them. Change is, perhaps, the only constant in most of our lives. As a teacher, students come and students go, and that’s the way it’s always been. As an ex-pat in another country, my friends have come and gone many times, and now are scattered to the four corners of the world. It is hard to stay in touch, and even with different digital media sites, it is still difficult to maintain a real friendship from seven thousand miles away. And when old friends finally make their last trip, it is equally difficult to say goodbye, especially when you have known them for more than fifty years. Yet those fifty years are also a monument to that friendship which has had to endure a lot of stuff, not all good, much of it very good. Mortality is, in the end, about endings, and that is the way it must be–one of those rules nobody breaks.