For someone who writes stories, I think it’s natural for me to think of almost everything in terms of beginnings and endings, with each ending morphing into a new beginning.
Perhaps society and community encourage us to think in this way too – nursery, primary, high school – all have a start and an end, and then there’s uni and after that a career, marriage, kids, success… all phases that we come to believe will happen over neat, clearly defined pockets of time and allow us to have a ‘story’ at every point.
I once thought that I would have a set of stories as well. Things that I could say about: “And that’s how it all began…” but life hasn’t quite turned out that way. There are things that I am still waiting for to end while other things have already started, with one phase overlapping the other and often, I realise that I am holding on to both threads, not managing to quite let go of one and in the process sometimes holding back the other. It naturally gets considerably confusing
But then again, do things have to have a beginning and an ending? I don’t remember the beginning of my existence for example. Sure, I have a date and time to put to it, but no memory whatsoever. When did I even become aware that I was? Vague recollections spanned out over years and experiences tell me that at some point in time, there was suddenly an entity called ‘I’ or ‘me’ but how it happened, what triggered and when it came into conscious being are all lost.
Someday I will end, but before that ending, so many other parts of me will have ended. I am not the same person I was as a teenager, or as a young person or even what I was 4 or 5 years ago and I continue to change – trying to drop habits that are negative and adopt the ones that are positive, trying to become like the image of what I believe to be the ‘ideal me’.
I also believe in Life after Death, in an Reality beyond the one we witness with our 5 senses which then raises the question: If death is not the end of me, then what is ending? Just another phase of experience? The only difference will be a change in dimension or environment, but ‘I’ will still remain and just as I have reacted and adapted over time to the various challenges life has thrown my way, I will have to react and adapt to the challenge that death will bring as well…
The scary bit is that the challenges of life are finite and definitive. You look around you and you see billions of people going through a variety of difficulties and you know that any one of those could come your way…but you have a selection to prepare for. With death however, there is nothing familiar that you can imagine or strengthen yourself in anticipation of. It is the one closed door behind which lies the True Mystery of Life, the one Experience that no one can say the words: “I know what you’re going through” to console you with. The only Journey you will take Alone. Each of us. All of us.
When I wrote the words above, it made me think that this must be the Real growing-up that we all will have to go through. That moment when Illusion, Dreams, Ideals, Innocence and Ignorance all vanish in the face of Enlightenment. It sounds exciting, but at the same time it’s extremely disconcerting because that experience of Knowing may be the ending of Spiritual Childhood, but it will also signify the beginning of Maturity. There will be consequences to Knowledge that we will have to deal with – appreciation, regret, fear, love, despair, hope…heightened versions of so many emotions.
When will the Journey end? When will we finally be able to stop and say “This is it?” I don’t think ever. It is the beauty of the human being that he has a beginning, but will not have an end. Whether we end up in Hell (God Forbid!) or in Heaven (God Willing), there will be Eternity awaiting us. The stories we write for ourselves in the Present time will be what define our Future. It may be a timeless experience of frustration, pain and loss or one of peace, contentment and pure joy, but either way, it will be For Ever.
Which makes me now sit and wonder – If I am going to exist without end, then what kind of an existence do I want to be? Do I want to live with the knowledge that my time has been wasted and used up in worthless endeavours or do I want to analyse each minute, assess each action that I invest my energy into and make each moment count? Because every second I have is the potential for a new beginning without end. How many positive Never-Ending Stories can I start in what is remaining of my life?