Every end has a beginning.
Every beginning has an end.
We often associate endings in life with great pain and heartbreak, but sometimes it’s the moments that are neither ending nor beginning that are the most agonizing.
For the past few months, I’ve meandered along a familiar path. Even when the road became rocky and the potholes forebode a dangerous end ahead, I persisted. Occasionally, I hesitated and wondered whether I should take heed of the warnings, but the moments of sunshine or occasional flock of butterflies kept me to the trodden path.
Sometimes our fear of the unknown leads us to embrace the comfort of familiarity – even when that familiarity is toxic. However, as the path continues it becomes more and more apparent that the promises of novelty and excitement from the beginning do not lie ahead. The longer I remained on the path the more I regretted not abandoning it long ago when I could at least have left with sunny memories of beauty and warmth.
By the time I reached the cliff, it was too late to go back. I stood on the precipice like a fool with only doubts and regrets to keep me company. Why did I ever take the path? Were the moments of sun and happiness worth it? Or even worse – was there ever happiness or sun, or were those just constructs of my wishful mind?
The periods of limbo – periods of doubts and uncertainties about people, purpose, and existence – seem to be prevailing themes. I am stuck in the middle of spring quarter senior year with no clue about what comes next. Or rather, I have clues but I’m not sure that they are the clues that I want. I have been waiting for months and I’ve taken many paths that have led to closed doors and others that have led to open ones, but I’m wary and hesitant about the options currently available.
So, I’m still waiting.
Don’t get me wrong, some of the open doors are amazing opportunities – how could I forget to mention:
I GOT A GRANT TO GO BACK TO RWANDA THIS SUMMER!
I will be returning to the Rwanda Multi-Learning Centre to start “Vocation for Education” – a program that will pair students at the school with part-time internships. The hope is that if students accompany learning in the classroom with experiential learning, they will accumulate the work experience necessary to find jobs to support the continuation of their education.
I’m still waiting to hear back from another grant before I officially launch the project. But can you believe it was only a year ago when I started this blog and prepared for my first trip to Rwanda?
I guess I am currently more concerned with what comes after summer and where I’m ultimately going with my life – what happens next?
In addition to confusion, the sense of loss, too, has grown more acute in the past few weeks. Last quarter, it was the loss of a kindred spirit – a confidante and beloved friend. It was a loss that defied comprehension in its unexpectedness and tragedy.
This quarter, the loss is even less tangible. It is the loss of silly puckered faces, of barley soup, missing hairpins and earrings, undesired vegetables, a warm gray scarf, and half-watched movies. It is the loss of carefree laughter and spontaneity. Five months can disappear into flashes of memories. The most mundane moments become the most memorable. Small gestures – pinkie promises on sunny days, broken promises on dark days, laughter during tragedy, tears during hilarity – become the character of what once was.
But can you really lose something you never had?
Whispers lead to doubt. Perhaps more difficult than loss is the acknowledgment of questions that will never be answered. Was it painful? What does this mean? Why did it happen? What if…?
Sometimes these questions find answers after time, but more often than not, they remain unaddressed and we must accept the lack of resolution.
I guess the good thing is that we never end up exactly where we started. Each time we fall, we learn new lessons on how to avoid another fall. Sometimes this means that we take a longer time to get up and sometimes we even tell ourselves that we will never try again, but so much of who we are as people is defined by the bruises, scars, and broken bones we have sustained in the messy race we call life.
The scrapes from the most recent fall still sting.
I’ve had worse injuries, but it has still been difficult to get back up and remember how to walk again. Sometimes I still look back at the path and I wonder how its natural turns and slopes led to this. However, I’m starting to realize that while the destination was not ideal, the sun-drenched warmth and random rainbows along the journey still outweigh the ultimate denouement.
As F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist but the ability to start over.”
Here’s to endings and new beginnings.