How to End Things
I feel so grateful. I feel it in the center of my chest and the points of my cheeks. I feel it tingle in my fingers and toes. I feel so happy and thankful for this week and half I’ve spent in beautiful Santa Barbara, California. It’s been an amazing reset and a reminder of the beauty the world holds.
I dove into Mother Nature with arms wide open and soaked up all that She offers. I also sat with myself during one of the most challenging points in my personal cycle. And I came out the other side with a deep experience of joy, laughter, fun, play, and inspiration at an amazing festival all weekend. It has been an incredible, intricate, insightful and internal trip. It’s one awesome adventure among many in this lifetime. And experience has taught me the importance of honoring the come down.
The end of things. The crossover point. The transition. It’s easy in our culture to skip this pivotal point. To immediately jump into the next thing. And I’m deeply curious about this unhealthy habit.
We do not have a practice of STOPPING and of reflecting. We are really great at welcoming. We celebrate new years, new marriages, new birth years, new life, and next phases. And yet, the only time we ever truly stop to honor what JUST occurred is in death.
How lopsided are we? And perhaps this is why many fear death so much because we lack a healthy appreciation and respect for all the mini-deaths we experience throughout our lifetime.
Maybe it’s a trip with girlfriends, a year-long study abroad, a weekend away with hubby, a life-changing retreat, the end of several amazing years at a job you loved, or the end of a chapter of living in a certain city as you move on to the next.
It can be hard because it was SO good! And why would we want to consciously let it go? Can’t we just hang on to the goodness forever? What if consciously letting go is somehow betraying our experience? What if we lose it? What if we forget? Can’t we take it with us forever into the future?
Or maybe you can’t even acknowledge the impact it had on you. Maybe you’re the type who’d rather just drop it and forget. Can’t you just say goodbye and move on? Or, haven’t you heard… “I’m not good with goodbyes.” Yea fine, but why? What’s there that you’re avoiding? And what life juice are you passing by?
When I think about why we habitually skip the grieving process (or whatever you want to call it) I think about fear.
All these questions point to deep fear. Fear of never experiencing the same thing again. Fear of never being as happy, joyful, inspired, or connected. Fear of the future. Fear of the unknown. Fear of ourselves. Fear of feeling. Fear.
As this last week slowly moves into the past, I come down from the high. And if I let my feet truly touch the ground, I feel my sadness, grief, and fear. I say these words but do not mean that I am overcome by feelings.
In all these feelings is a deep subtlety that can be easily overlooked by simply turning on the TV, scrolling through social media, working on my projects, or numbing myself in some other form. It’s easy. I’ve done it a lot, and I bet you have too.
How often are you really meeting the bottom of the experience? How often are you giving yourself the opportunity to honor an experience by coming completely back to earth, feet in the dirt, heart wide open, grateful, and surrendered?
How often do you look back, wide-eyed, see the end, and say, “Good bye”?
And if you could face and feel all the feelings at the end of that process, how might you feel beneath it all? I can tell you how I feel.
I feel relief. I feel gratitude and happiness. I feel super thankful that I have given myself the time and space to make peace and clear the air. I feel happy and whole. I feel open and clear for what’s next. I’ve released all the remnants. And I’m ready to receive all the goodness yet to come. Gratitude.
And I feel this way because I first stopped.
I stopped and felt. I looked around and said, “Oh hey, yea, this is ending. See it there? The sun setting? How do I feel in this ending?” I sat there, in my feeling. I felt the end of it. I continued to feel the end of it as I moved into this new week. I stayed open to all the feelings as they surfaced. I felt. And I asked myself, “How can I best care for myself in this time of transition?” Here’s what came up.
Go slow. Be gentle. Create space. Give a ceremony to what you experienced once home. Give gratitude. And create a clear distinction and end to this journey. Set the ground for the next journey and experiences as you continue on through Spring. One journey at a time.
Beginning, middle, end.
Close the loop.
We are a society of people walking around with a bunch of open loops. And yet we wonder why we feel so scattered, distant, distracted, and not present. Perhaps it’s because you keep leaving parts of yourselves in the past. Maybe you could try this: learn to close your loops.
It need not be anything crazy or extravagant. Only that which feels good and right for you. Maybe it’s just a simple, open-eyed “Goodbye.” Or a head nod and a “Thank you.” Maybe it’s a sweet ceremony using a candle, journaling your feelings, and saying a few prayers.
However you choose to do it is up to you. So long as it seals the deal, honors the end, acknowledges your feelings, and brings you squarely into the present moment ready for what’s next.