There is an old phrase- today is the first day of the rest of your life. Every day is a series of beginnings and endings from the most mundane chores of brushing our teeth, combing our hair, and opening and closing doors to much greater life decisions such as ending a relationship, a career, or a lifetime habit. Unfortunately, most of our endings and beginnings are decided unconsciously, from habit, because that’s how we do things. When major events need to change, it’s common to choose to end current suffering rather than discover how to move into a new celebration of life.
The mind being what it is, people immediately think of all the unfinished projects they have stored in their closets or other convenient places of concealment; and the excuses as to why things are unfinished are legion. While it’s a good thing to dig out or clear out old projects that otherwise hang around our necks like the proverbial albatross that is not the point of this spiritual declaration. Examining birth and death, intentions and deliverance, wishes and manifestations is more to the point.
Let’s start with the stated underlying purpose of beginnings and endings- Love, Joy, and Peace. Love as a motivating factor implies a deep relationship with what or who is loved. Love compels us to protect, nurture, honor, and defend the object of our love. Why? Because that entity that energy is believed to be the sustaining force of our life.
We love the Earth and the life of the Earth because it’s what nurtures and provides for us. We love, and have emotional attachment to, our friends, family, pets, teachers, or other important individuals because of who they are for us and to us. Love, therefore, and even the lack of love, can compel us to begin or end a situation or relationship.
In the beginning of our nation, the founders wrote a statement to declare their purpose, stating that a new nation must be created with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. This idea that happiness was something that could be pursued, bagged, and possessed is a problem. Joy, on the other hand, arises when we recognize that life has both sweetness and bitterness, that it is gentle and harsh, uplifting and wounding, birthing and dying. These dualities keep repeating, and there is no way to avoid that repetition, so we look for moments of sharing, moments of celebration, and live fully in those moments.
Suffering comes from wanting what we don’t have and not wanting what we do have. So, the motivation of joy in beginnings and endings comes from the willingness to be excited about the new opportunity and to cherish the memories from what has died.
Peace is often misunderstood as a static condition where everything is perfect and never to be disturbed again. This line of the Covenant exists because growth, evolution, and even dissolution occurs and is necessary for the continuation of life. Peace means standing in our core truth like a pillar of stone buffeted by storms, cold, heat, and wind. The surface is changed by these things, but the megalith remains though time even if the story of our life has faded to illegibility. Discovering and creating the ground on which we stand, the stone on which we write, is the work of a spiritual soul travelling the eternal paths of enlightenment.
Having examined the purpose for which we begin and finish anything, it becomes our duty to choose people, places, and experiences that provide the possibility of wisdom. We are not looking for an easy way to choose; we are exploring unknown territory in the inner galaxy of hazardous adventures. We seek to grow, not avoid mistakes. We open our hearts to the wounds of the present moment in order for the light to penetrate the darkness we are trying to evade.
Before making a choice to end or begin we might ask ourselves these questions: What needs to change? What needs to be healed? What needs to be left in the ashes?
When we feel things need to change, it’s often something outside of ourselves. It’s the way someone speaks to us, the way we feel disrespected by others, the way people don’t listen to us, long hours at work, not receiving enough appreciation, noisy or nosy neighbors. However, if we intend to truly finish, end, close, or terminate an unpleasant experience- leaving it behind and going somewhere else isn’t the answer.
First, we must examine how and why we find ourselves in such a situation that our only recourse seems to be running away. Here are some questions to consider: How am I helping to create this difficulty? Why am I unable to work within this challenge? What have I learned that will benefit my life?
These are questions to assist in finishing the old energy pattern before contemplating what to birth as a new experience. This doesn’t mean making a martyr of ourselves and staying in an awful situation; it means there are questions to examine before moving on. We do this because if we are unwilling to discover our part in any challenge, we are doomed to recreate something similar in the new plan, place, or relationship.
The examination of our cooperation or contribution within the old situation allows us to perceive what needs to be healed. Some questions that can help heal our inner distress so that we can birth a new way that works are: What are my chief benefactor qualities (skills/virtues) and how can I use them more effectively? Who can I trust to help me process my anger, fear, grief, or pain from the old relationships or situations? Who can I trust to help me formulate a new life plan? What was good about the old experience, and how can I grow that goodness?
Finally, it becomes important to know what we are leaving in the ashes. Relationships, friendships, jobs, housing, almost everything in life comes to an end sometime. Maybe it’s death that ends the situation permanently or maybe we or others have changed and can’t remain together in the same way anymore.
When our experience is finished, there are some important things that we must leave behind: blame, shame, guilt, and regret. This may take a while. We cannot go wholeheartedly into our new life carrying those energies. They must be turned into ash and left in the cold remains of the dead fire otherwise we will stop growing, stop gathering wisdom, and become a ghost lingering in the place of our brokenness, wandering the ruins of might-have-been.
Having the courage to begin and finish things in love, joy, and peace is the road to liberation. Until death writes the end of our story, we can always start a revolutionary new chapter creating an unexpected twist leading us into the cosmic potential of the Divine Avatar within.