Every minute of every day, something in our life is ending.
Relationships. Timelines. Dreams. Experiences. Jobs. Routines. Even the present moment.
Some of these changes are expected; we even have time to prepare for them. And others are sudden, out of our control.
And although we are in a perpetual state of change, of endings, of letting go, so many of us still struggle to find a way through it with grace—and without tumbling down that never-ending dark hole of worst-case scenarios.
Because endings, in all their forms, feel scary.
Because endings feel stressful.
Because endings feel uncertain.
Because endings feel like failure.
Because endings feel like falling apart.
And they feel that way because they are all those things, to some degree.
But endings, changes, shake-ups, and setbacks are also opportunities.
They are chances to start over, to do it differently, to try something new, to let go.
To learn something, to step outside our comfort zone, to put ourselves back together, to realize what matters most, to fail better, to stretch ourselves in ways we never imagined we’d have to, to perfect our goodbyes.
At least that’s what I tell myself when I feel the fear, the what ifs, and the sadness of knowing another ending is looming.
And when that doesn’t work and I can see things falling apart all around me, I read these quotes from Pema Chödrön:
>> “Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?”
>> “A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us.”
>> “The very first noble truth of the Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last—that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security.”
>> “Relaxing with the present moment, relaxing with hopelessness, relaxing with death, not resisting the fact that things end, that things pass, that things have no lasting substance, that everything is changing all the time—that is the basic message.”
>> “The essence of life is that it’s challenging. Sometimes it is sweet, and sometimes it is bitter. Sometimes your body tenses, and sometimes it relaxes or opens. Sometimes you have a headache, and sometimes you feel 100 percent healthy. From an awakened perspective, trying to tie up all the loose ends and finally get it together is death, because it involves rejecting a lot of your basic experience. There is something aggressive about that approach to life, trying to flatten out all the rough spots and imperfections into a nice smooth ride.”
>> “Things are as bad and as good as they seem. There’s no need to add anything extra.”
>> “Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”
>> “I used to have a sign pinned up on my wall that read: Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us…It was all about letting go of everything.”