When does something finish?
When you feel accomplished? When you’ve made your point? When you’ve said what you wanted to say?
When you’ve pressed “submit”? When you’ve hit the deadline? When the clock runs out?
The end of all things has made me especially nostalgic and contemplative, these days. I just finished the last competitive softball games of my life. I just finished the last assignment of my undergraduate career (sort of). Soon, I’ll pack up and move out of hopefully the last house of 8 girls I will ever live in. But will I continue to be competitive and play catch? Yes. Will I continue to write and even edit this project? Yes. Will I continue to maintain the relationships I’ve made with my roommates and friends from college? Yes.
So, when is something over? I consider this frequently, as events are marking the end and the beginning. In August, I will move to Tanzania for a year. I’m engaging in another contract with Father Time. He was there when I moved from each block of my education, and he is back again giving me a time frame to start and finish. I’m wondering if he ever goes away. Maybe after you get a job or get married, does he let you live on your own like a good parent weaning their child? Does he think we get to make our own decisions about beginnings and endings?
This is a borderline-existential extension of my project claiming that we do not get distinct starting and end-points in our lives. We do not have separate occasions of ascent, peak, descent. And we don’t know how we will feel during each one.
As we all move onto another stage, no matter how ambiguous or planned yours may be, I remember this quote by Elizabeth Gilbert that reminds us to continue adjusting and changing, because we are always learning: “You make some big grandiose decision about what you need to do, or who you need to be, and then circumstances arise that immediately reveal to you how little you understood about yourself.”
When I started college, I never thought I would be complementing my degree with Writing or Swahili, but here I am, with the two notched on my resume as cornerstones of my college career. Be prepared to start anything, and have the courage to finish them.