How do I end, not as I have begun, but with an equivalent amount of attention and intention?
I am good at starting things; delight in the fresh page, new beginning, innovative idea, but I’m not so good at ending them well. I once worked in a teaching job where I agreed to help them out by staying for a term. It was not where I wanted to be at that stage of my life but the school was desparate for a teacher, and I, well, I like new things!
I stayed beyond the first term for three joyous, arduous, challenging years where I learned a huge amount but where I also developed a rather self-sacrificial habit of martyrdom which inevitably resulted in a case of depression, burn-out and incapacity to reveal my vulnerability (not exactly in that order). So, I left in a blaze of exhaustion and not very positive feeling but with a sense that I could no more stand in front of the class again than fly. It did not end well.
That’s one of my more spectacularly ungraceful endings but on a regular basis I notice other poor endings as well. I finish work on one project with a sense of what I haven’t yet done rather than what I’ve achieved. I end my meditation practice with an abrupt thought about the washing I left on the line over night instead of gratitude and a sense of completion. I start cleaning the bathroom before I have made the bed. You get the picture.
So, I’m trying to give awareness and intention to endings.
When teaching storytelling, I emphasise the importance of ‘landing the story’ bringing you and your listeners back from the journey so you are all aware it is the end. It’s like a pilot landing an aircraft by letting it steadily drop from the sky until it gently (hopefully) reaches the earth. Lower your voice, I suggest, slow down, give weight to your words. Let your audience know that you are coming to the end.
I’m going to heed my own advice—wrap up each activity with a sense of completion, of acknowledging where I’ve been and finding my way back to where I am—before I take the next step forward.