/*amazon_ad_exclude = "christian"*/ The Skin I Am In: Forget The Ending

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Forget The Ending

We all seem to be searching for that proverbial happy ending. The truth of the matter is, life is not a fairy tale. At times it resembles a romantic comedy, others a horror flick. Other times still it may appear like a long and drawn out documentary where you almost feel the need to check your own pulse. Regardless of genre, real life rarely ties up all its loose ends before the closing credits.

A common expression reminds us that it's not the destination but the journey that is important. Naturally I have always understood the fundamental concept, but oddly, I think now for the first time I finally get it. As in, really get it.

When I decided to address this topic my initial intent was conveying that happy endings don't just happen. We must produce them. Each life is far more than any particular moment; it is greater still than the sum of its parts because more valuable than the experiences themselves are our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. How we perceive life will effect how we live it.

Yet upon further examination I pondered, “what is a happy ending?” For unlike a book with tangible parameters--a concise beginning and end--our lives are always in a state of metamorphosis, constantly changing and evolving. Is a happy ending judged merely by the state of our existence as we approach our final moments? Surely that is not what people spend their lives striving, worrying, and fighting so hard to achieve. Perhaps we should aspire for happy endings to our many different chapters, as opposed to narrowing our focus on the entire volume.

As happiness waxes and wanes throughout our life's story, some chapters will end well while others will not. It is the lessons we take from one chapter to help improve the next that provides a good and worthy script; a script that combined with the inevitable tribulations brims with many happy endings.

A great number of us spend far too much of our lifetime working toward a certain goal. Yet once reached and many years invested, then what? Either we stagnate on a disappointing plateau, or we set a new goal. This pattern accomplishes little more than to produce a vicious cycle. Like a dog chasing it's tail, you are constantly moving but never really getting anywhere. I certainly do not suggest that we avoid setting goals for ourselves, rather that they not become our primary objective. Sadly, people often get so focused on their accomplishments that all other facets of life become neglected. In our perpetual quest for happy endings it seems much of the time we overlook the greater meaning.

We should enjoy life like we do a good book that is thoroughly engrossing and rewarding to read. Imagine how the words come together painting a picture in your mind. You instinctively savor the images they conjure and the feelings they evoke. Obviously, it would be counterproductive to hurriedly skim the text in a race to reach your goal of getting to the end. The integrity of the story would be lost, negating the very reason to read it in the first place. One must appreciate the rich details and depth of character development in order to derive the significance of that very last sentence for it is irrelevant without the hundreds of pages preceding it. Likewise, in life, profundity does not rise from mediocrity.

Instead of considering my ailing marriage as a grievous conclusion to a major chapter, I am choosing to regard it as an opportunity for a happy beginning in the next installment. While I certainly don't know what direction my storyline will take, perhaps these past few years were merely preparation for the next chapter. Maybe my future chapters have even greater things in store than the tale I had envisioned. Maybe--just maybe--this unfortunate circumstance is truly a happy ending in disguise.


Jennifer said...

And bad experiences -- or what appear to be unhappy endings -- can make us more complex and resilient or can lead to unanticipated happiness. It's hard to tell when you're in the middle of darkness, but the light will come.

Anonymous said...

Phenom. You are powerful. Continued success...if you don't keep this outlook for you; keep it for your children.

Just Bob said...

What a great post. I see a lot of myself in those words. Or to be more precise, what I should be and not what I am now. Someone I know (besides me) could use this sage advice!

Tamera said...

You sure do get it. Inspiring post!

Choo Choo said...

Very true, very true. Our lives aren't made up of beginning, middle & end; the pattern repeats until the sum is finally complete.

doug said...

Damn I think that was the strongest and best post to date! You have an EXTREME talent so please don't let it go to waste. This is you, you are a writer no doubt about it!

Garg the Unzola said...

I am reading The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff. It addresses many issues you seem to be going through, and asserts that Taoism reached more or less the same conclusions.

You're a Toaist and you didn't even know it! Or maybe you did. That just rhymed.

FerdC ~ The Best Parts said...

Wonderful, introspective post. Food for a lot of thought.
I am grateful for my 25 year first marriage. Though it ended badly, the sum total is definitely good. Even beyond the gift of our 4 children, we learned and shared many things together.
Looking at life as a book of chapters is interesting. I try to look at mine from the "one day at a time" perspective. If I do the next right thing today, sometimes easy and sometimes hard, tomorrow seems to take care of itself.

kybruno said...

Change is never easy, and yet we are all changing all the time. Endings and beginnings make up the cycles of our lives-there is that whole Buddhist impermanence thing going on.

What is a happy ending? The early bird getting the worm is a happy ending for the bird, but not so happy for the worm.

Great post as always

piebuko said...

Great post, but sad.
You seem to be "in acceptance of what you seem to be considering as inevitable"

misterDog said...

Happy endings is a fairy tale.

However, moments of triumph happen more often than we give ourselves credit for.

Life is open ended. No happy ending, but cycles of triumph and setback.

I think you are on a great path.

SecretSin said...

Thanks for stopping by Sin's Secret! I really really really appreciate your comment. :)

I read through some of your blog, you're a great writer! Keep up the good work and I'll try to keep up the good parts of mine ^-^'
Great stuff.


Travis Morgan said...

Life is like a Shakespearean tragedy. Oh so admirable, yet so painfully flawed.