E M P O W E R E D C H A N G E
The concept of time, and therefore completion, takes on a different quality in the world of books and stories where one may be transported back and forth through time and space so easily and effortlessly. The recounting of a tale in reverse, seemingly backward through time from ending to beginning, will often shed a light that is often not perceived when looking at the situation from a strictly forward-thinking perspective.
As a youngster, and a voracious reader of fiction, my impatience often got the best of me, urging me to jump ahead, reading the ending of the book before I was even a quarter of the way through it. I virtually always gave in to the urge and eagerly read the last chapter before going back to finish reading the rest of the book. It never seemed to ruin the story and sometimes allowed me to pick up key pieces of information, vital to the outcome of the story, that otherwise might have been missedor dismissedas unimportant. I enjoyed knowing what the ending would be and how the pieces of the story fit together to construct that particular outcome. Still an avid reader, I don't read much fiction any more, but when the opportunity arises, I often find myself, if not actually reading the final chapter, at least leafing through upcoming chapters for hints as to the outcome of the story.
When experiencing times of change, it can be very compelling to try to look ahead to see what's going to happento know with certainty how it's all going to turn out. Particularly when faced with hard or seemingly diametrically opposed choices, we may wish for a crystal ball or the ability to "read the last chapter" so we know how the story ends and which choice would be the most advantageous to make. However, if we begin to see that our lives are not so linear as we perceive them to be, and that we have already, perhaps, begun at the end and are, in actuality, moving backward toward a new beginning, then maybe our choices and decisions would flow more smoothly and easily from their natural consequence.
Often, our choices are made on the basis of what we perceive the ultimate outcome to beor, more precisely, what we WANT the outcome to be, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, when we look at our choices in this light, we might see them as a form of benign manipulation and can be very disappointed when the outcome is not what was anticipated. Perhaps this is the time to throw in the idea of non-attachment, or "letting go." Or maybe, just maybe, it's really OK to be disappointed. Maybe it's really OK to feel sad or angry or frustrated when things don't turn out the way we want them to. Just maybe it's OK to be human and have those deep feelings . . . and then it's time to move on.
The idea that there is a new beginning within each ending, or more precisely, that endings ARE truly new beginnings, may be, for some of us, an idea that is fairly new, at least on a conscious, cognitive level. But when we begin to think of those times in our lives when we have experienced profound change that brought about apparent endingsendings that were truly painful and sometimes almost unbearablewe often realize that even before the grieving was diminished, hope, in the form of new ideas, goals, and dreams, had already begun to take root and budalmost in spite of ourselves.
But sometimes it's hard to let go of disappointmentseven seemingly minor ones. I was talking with a dear friend today about this very subjectin this case, my disappointment that a particular job I had been anticipating had not come through, leaving me feeling at loose ends and unable to focus on next steps. He told me that he had learned a long time ago that when one of his jobs did not come through as expected, he acted as if it had and kept right on working. This, he told me, not only kept his skills sharp but also kept him in the right frame of mind for the next job that did come along. Good advice, I think, and not just for this one circumstance.
"Acting as if" is not a new idea, but it is one that is easy to forget to put into practice. Not only can "acting as if" give you the opportunity to shift your perspective, it can actually be the key that unlocks the next door on the journeyin a sense, working backward from the apparent end. In this case, by "acting as if" I had a new assignment (I gave myself a project to work on), an article was created that might not have been had I continued to mope around and wallow in my disappointment. In fact, while working on my self-assigned project, the disappointment that had been felt so keenly earlier in the day actually vanished on its own. I didn't have to try to let go, it just happened.
It always amazes me, not as a surprise, but as a delight, that when working on a project or article such as this one, the things I need to hear (like my friend's advice) or remember somehow show up at the most precise moments. This morning, while reading an article about Wabi-sabi, the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection, I came across this statement by author Leonard Koren, in which he speaks briefly about completion: All things, including the universe itself, are in a constant, never-ending state of becoming or dissolving. Often we arbitrarily designate moments, points along the way, as "finished." But when is a plant complete? When it flowers? When it goes to seed? When the seeds sprout? When everything turns into compost?
From our very linear and finite human perspective, completion seems so final and yet, in reality, perhaps there is no such thing. When I have completed this article, I will say, "It is finished," but is it really? Like the plant, at what point is the article actually finished? When I stop writing? When it is published? When it is read? When points are remembered, perhaps months or even years from now, after the actual article is long forgotten? . . . Now?
ACTION: Because the written word has the ability to transport us forward and backward through time, it can be a powerful tool for directing our energies toward positive and powerful completions. If, right now, you were going to tell the story of the next five years of your life, what would it be? Starting at the endfive years from nowhow might you work your way backward through the events and circumstances that will lead you to the logical beginning (or ending)where you are right now? Be as detailed in your descriptions as possible and don't let "logic" diminish your ability to create a vigorous and potent life story that is both satisfying and meaningfula true expression of who you are and where you want to be. Then, from where you are right now, determine what is the first step you can take to start forward down this path from end to beginning?
Perhaps you don't want to look that far ahead right now. In that case, you might want to choose an area of your life that seems either to be ending or that you seem to be struggling with completing and focus on that. Now, acting as if life were proceeding in just the manner you wish, what do you need to do to act as if you got the job you wanted, were working on the project you always dreamed of, or were experiencing yourself as the creative being you truly are and desire to be? If you are having trouble completing a project, go to the endread the last chapterin fact, WRITE the last chapterand imagine the project finished, actually seeing yourself taking the steps that need to be taken to accomplish that. Also, picture yourself feeling good about completing it and eager to move on to the next project. Write the story, and act as if these things were already accomplished. (Then take the steps needed to do it!)
Whatever your story happens to be, as you are writing, it may help to ask questions. What are the circumstances in your life right now that seem to be endings and how do they impact the choices you are making? How might you begin to see these endings as beginnings? What doors are opening that, perhaps, you had failed to notice before? Even if you can't see the open doors, imagine what it might be like on the other side if, instead of an end, you could relate to your circumstance as an opportunity for growth and developmenta new beginningand write that down. What would you need to do to act "as if" your life circumstances were exactly as you want them to be? Jot down any ideas that come to you and incorporate these ideas into your story.
Your visualizationsthe telling of your story can be particularly powerful when combined with daily meditation, along with action that forwards your intention.
Remember, this process is not about manipulation and has nothing to do with getting others to behave in a particular way, or forcing circumstances to change or shift in a manner that you wish. This is about you moving forward and backward easily through time to craft a powerful story that will ultimately shape and form the continuum that is called a lifetime.
Writer and Editor
© Linda Maree 2002