The end of anything marks the beginning of something else. To honor these moments (arbitrary as they may be) and take the time to end well sets up the stage for how we will begin… or how we will begin again.
As we tip from one year into the next—one decade into the next—we have the opportunity to reflect on what has been and how it has shaped us. It’s an organic time to celebrate what has been, and to observe—with patience for ourselves—if we’ve wandered off our path. It’s a moment to honor all the steps that have led to this moment...even if those steps were painful or felt unnecessary at the time or if this moment is something we’re resisting.
We are here.
I sit here in Tamil Nadu, India, about on a pilgrimage designed to burn through attachments and samskaras, to surrender old stories I lug around and reunite myself with parts of myself I’ve cast out. And in this moment, I’m overcome with the longing to “end well.”
My initial response is to get out there and see, feel, “temple” (yeah; that’s a verb here), distract myself from the discomfort of being halfway around the world from my daughters. Distract myself from the endeavor of becoming still enough to mark a moment, finish a cycle, honor an era.
But in the teachings, it’s the exhale that comes before the inhale. It starts the moment we come through the birth canal, when our bodies know only to cry; and we must empty our lungs before the very first inhale. The thorough exhale makes space for the inhale—the new day, new era, new season that is coming.
On our journey through Southern India we immerse in pujas (ceremonies), perform abhisheka (enacted prayer) in ashrams, chant the sacred sounds, and humble ourselves amidst the ancient expressions of humans longing for meaning. But even if you don’t happen to be in India on a pilgrimage when 2019 becomes 2020, the clock still ticks, and the calendar still flips. So how can you take some moments to investigate where you’ve been to better support your sense of where you’re going?
To write down intentions and resolutions, to try to change habits is particularly challenging when we have yet to name, honor, and perhaps clear out what’s been. In keeping with the travel theme, it’s like trying to board an airplane that’s just landed and head to the next city without disembarking everyone who’s just landed. So we offload, clean up the pretzel crumbs, refuel, look at the map (there are pilot maps, right?!), and make sure we’ve got a strong signal with our air traffic control tower. Then we can load up and head out, with renewed clarity.
You can find me on the final days of this decade on the East Coast of India doing my best to study this last decade and head into this next cycle with more clarity and fortitude for all that will unfold.
Wishing you a moment to empty out your aircraft, to finish well.