Many of you know I’m in the midst of traveling abroad for much of this year. When I travel, I like to think of the journey as a story. Each journey (or task, event, or project) has a beginning, middle, and end. Using this kind of story lens help me to interpret and understand my experiences.
In the beginning, there is excitement, anticipation, and the pleasure and wonder of novelty, but there can also be confusion, disorientation, and challenge while learning to navigate in a new world.
Middles are full of fresh knowledge, building confidence, exploration and connection-making. Things feels more settled, known but still new-ish, and one naturally takes for granted that life will carry on like this indefinitely. This is the sweet boon that arises from having risked embarking on a new beginning in the first place.
But an ending is eventually around one corner. Then comes a time of appreciation, assessment, and letting go. Gratitude is coupled with loss, happy experiences are tucked away as memories, obstacles met and overcome are seen as having enriched our wisdom, but the reminder that all of life is temporary and ever-changing is upon us once again.
It’s natural to want to resist endings, but it’s wiser to embrace them because they give context to the whole. And within each ending is another beginning. Seneca is credited as saying, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
While I’m still, technically, at the beginning of my overall journey, I’m aware that I’m entering the ending phase of my time in Brittany, my first location. The weeks that seemed to stretch out before me when I first arrived have been swallowed by the swiftly passing days. It will soon be time to move on, time to let a new beginning draw me forward. (And one day that, too, will come to an end.)
We are constantly in a flow of beginnings, middles, and endings. At any given time we hold several versions of each. Can you identify where you are in some of your experiences? Are you at the beginning of a holiday or a home renovation project? Are you in the middle of writing a novel or raising your kids? Are you at the end of a love affair or a job contract?
It’s worth being as attentive to these phases in life as we are when writing or reading stories, because each part informs the whole, and we can’t fully understand one part without experiencing them all.
In life, the lines of beginning, middles, and endings do tend to overlap and blur, because we are living many stories simultaneously, but even an occasional awareness of these rhythms can deepen our perception for story-making in life as well as on the page.