Endings

Today’s writing prompt: Tell us how you feel about endings.

Endings, like time itself, are flexible.

Some endings are well-marked, clearly delineated. The end of an event, a project, or a process is celebrated with a closing ceremony. A movie or TV show ends with credits (often accompanied by music), copyright notices, various logos, and, some times, some variation on “The End”. A song may end with a particular chord sequence. A theater production ends with the performers bowing before an applauding audience. An intimate gathering ends with hugs and goodbyes.

For the most part, though, endings are more fluid; we simply move on to the next thing, paying little attention to the thing that just ended. This is especially true of our daily routines, as we move from bed to breakfast to shower to getting dressed, and on to the various tasks and interactions that make up the day. Even before one thing ends, we are already thinking about the next.

Sometimes, we don’t even treat the small episodes that make up the day as though they end. Quick phone calls and private messages—and even brief in-person exchanges with the people we know—may dispense with endings (as well as beginnings) altogether; instead, we treat them as parts of a larger, ongoing conversation. Often, it is only in retrospect that we realize that a given conversation or encounter was the last time we spoke with someone, or talked about a particular subject, or was a missed opportunity.

As the George Harrison song goes, all things must pass. Eventually, we will, too—and, although each person’s experience will be different (some will go without warning, others will linger, and some will have the chance to say goodbye), these endings will follow the same patterns we experience every day.

(29 November 2013)

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