Endings are hard for me. Even when they’re necessary. Even when they’re my choice.
Even when they come around every year.
And beginnings are…well…also hard. And scary and exciting and hopeful and full of expectations.
It sometimes feels like, as a culture, we are obsessed with these moments—myself included.
We announce births and mourn deaths. We throw parties to celebrate graduations and birthdays and marriages and divorces and retirements. We write about breakups and first loves, about starting over and walking away.
We mark our journey with starts and stops. By recognizing and celebrating the experiences that allowed, or sometimes forced, us to change paths.
And at no time is this more apparent than when the calendar switches from one year to the next.
We spend weeks looking back on the past 12 months and quantifying all that we accomplished, all that we welcomed and let go of. And we look ahead to all that we hope to accomplish in the new year.
I get it—these moments hold significance because of how they shaped us, for better or for worse. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that what has left us and what is yet to come are not always the most important parts of our journey.
This quote from journalist Brian D’Ambrosio helps me honor the kind of energy I hope to bring into 2024:
“Endings are thus formally unappealing to me; more than beginning or ending, in life, I enjoy continuing. Continuing is my only focus or concern.”
Because between each ending and each beginning, what remains is that we kept going.
Through unexpected disappointment and renewed faith, new loves and fading friendships, inspired growth and inhumane destruction, we’ve chosen to move forward, to carry on, to persist.
We’ve embraced each fresh start and survived each closing scene, and we’re still here. Still standing (or sitting…or giving ourselves permission to lay down and rest for a bit).
We like the idea of closure and hope, of lessons learned, of tying experiences up with a bow, whether that bow is shiny and red or faded and tattered. We want to feel like the what we went through mattered. And it did.
But whether the ending was sad or a moment of release, or the beginning was scary or a push toward our potential, we need to remind ourselves:
We didn’t let anything stop us, at least not for too long.
We didn’t quit, even though it would’ve been easier to.
We didn’t let our circumstances get the best of us, although at times it may have felt like it.
And while the endings and beginnings tend to be the defining moments, when looking back at our lives, the in-between moments, the moments when we took baby steps or gave ourselves time to be still, without making the big moves, are often when we’re most connected to our lives, to ourselves.
It is in these small moments between big moments, the sweet, sometimes sad stillness, that we are able to understand or at least consider why one thing has ended and another has begun, and what lessons we were always meant to learn. It’s in the pauses between motion that we can truly appreciate what we’ve experienced and see the next step forward.
I know that this year, like every other, will be full of starts and stops. Of moments that become the stories I tell. But my hope is that I can also fully acknowledge and embrace the moments when I allow myself to simply be. To notice. To be here. And then to continue.
Our life isn’t just a series of endings or beginnings—our life is, as John Lennon sang, “what happens while we’re busy making other plans.”
So here’s to the new year. Here’s to what has left us and what is yet to come. And here’s to, above all else, the beauty that can only be found in continuing.