Some Things End
We look at the calendar today and know or understand that we are at the end of another year, the end of another demarcated segment of the passing of time, the end of an illusion of something that we have created to guide or note the passing of our lives, and others’. It is the end of a period, a mini-eon, a turning of the earth on its axis around its star, an exhaustion of common moments and days and weeks and months that share our contrived labels.
I took-down our Christmas tree and the other decorations yesterday, marking the official (?) end of the holiday in our household. Our home is now as bare of this seasonal celebration as it was the day before it started. The Christmas CD’s have been returned to their storage place, the strings of lights and garlands and hand-chosen hand-made and picked-just-for-you ornaments and stockings and wreath and ceramic hand-made Christmas tree with the birds as lights resting in the branches and the little teddy-bears that were crocheted and stuffed into the red plastic cups that were also stuffed into the also crocheted stocking boot things, one for each child of Yesterday’s Christmases, all packed back into their storage crates and returned to the garage where they will sit and wait for the end of the non-Christmas season when they will be resurrected, brought back to their temporal lives out of hiding or hibernation or nothingness to once again adorn, decorate, and symbolically remind us of their importance or taken-for-granted-ness that they do as only they can do. Many of our neighbors still have their Christmas lights up and lit and making the outsides of their homes sparkle in the afterglow of that esteemed-as-blessed day that is now part of the past. I think they look lonely, somehow. They are pretty in their own way, of course, but they shine for something that has passed and is past…something that has ended…and something that will be back in the cycle of time, like most things.
The football season is in its final weeks; the playoffs will commence very soon and then end in that glorious display of something that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes good, and sometimes not worth near anything that has been spent on it…not even the moments we took out of our lives to observe it or think about it. I remember watching the final game of this year’s World Series, the one that put the 27th notch on the victory belt of the New York Yankees, the one that kind of seemed like another ho-hum moment in sports history…all those grown and pin-striped men bouncing on the infield in a big group-hug of arms around each other or raised with fists or fingers up and triumphant, jumping up and down in unison with plastic smiles of perceived wonderfulness and greatness…the entire image of which somehow reminds me of a dog humping someone’s leg. Anyway, that was the end of the baseball season, the end of summer…the end of the other team’s dream, their fans’ dreams…of something.
The end of dreaming, our sleep, with waking, facing our lives in their cycles of beginnings and endings, startings and stoppings, commencements and completions…the joy of picking-up a new book and opening it, smelling and feeling the smoothness of its pages and sensing the tiny and barely perceptible ridge of each line of script, and noting the crispness of the binding, the essence of its newness, unread, untraveled, untried, unfelt, and unlived…and a few hours or days or weeks later, when we have finished it, turned the last page and come to the end of the last thought and image of the last sentence of the last paragraph and that final period of the book, we set it aside, return it to the shelf where it was waiting for us those hours or days or weeks ago, beckoning to us for a visit, a journey, a co-existence and a shared life. Its pages are now familiar to us, some marked, some words underlined, some pages dog-eared or crumpled, maybe spotted with a fingerprint or drop of coffee, the story read, felt, and lived, and our lives are different. We have another perspective, another view of another’s view, another experience or life lived from within those pages…and it’s over.
Our children’s Christmas vacation, or winter break, will soon be over, our staff assignments and current work rotation will also end soon, the computers at work and home will mark the hour and date with a final ‘2009;’ we will open and post our new calendars with that ‘2010’ on our kitchen and bathroom walls, work walls, desks, partitions, and may open new journals, pocket and purse-sized weekly or monthly calendars…and make errors on our checks, payroll forms, and the other assorted papers in our lives where we leave our dated signatures to mark the significance of our passing.
While the actual physical substance of matter can neither be created nor destroyed and we understand that it only changes form with its constituent parts and components being rearranged in other forms, we do measure the end of physical items or objects as they move through our lives in their insignificant and momentous states. It is nothing, to us in our everyday lives, to finish a bottle of laundry detergent, a bar of soap, a package of napkins, a roll of toilet-paper, a package of frozen taquitos, a box of cereal, a tank of gas, a ream of paper, a package of razor-blades, a box of dog biscuits, a carton of eggs, a bottle of soda or can of beer, a package of CDs, or a cartridge for the plug-in air freshener…but it does mean something to note the end of a life, a relationship, or other significant existence. In this year that has almost passed, our friends and family members and pets have died, sometimes unexpectedly in tragedy, sometimes after long illnesses, sometimes in almost expected circumstances as they were young soldiers fighting in old men’s wars, and sometimes they passed when they were two months or eight months along and had yet to draw a breath of their own….
Sometimes the things that end are not lives but significant relationships or things or measures of accomplishments or adornments of our lives or homes that come to their expected or unexpected ends. The cottonwood tree that has been the symbolic guardian and watchful eye of our backyard and family events, celebrations, pool-parties, hushed conversations and confessions, and carefree afternoons and evenings is nigh unto death as its top half to two-thirds has withered and died after 17 years. That once beautiful mass of trunk and leaf and branch that would bend sideways in monsoon storms and was so tall that it could be seen from several streets away and housed numerous birds and bugs and offered dense shade in the summer and a golden wash and blanket of leaves to the yard in the fall and winter has passed into its own December…where it awaits its executioner on some unknown and approaching date…and my in-laws’ garage and workshop and hangar passed into a charred and skeletal nothingness on a fiery desert evening that consumed hand-made airplanes and a life-time’s accumulation of tools and lived dreams and celebrated accomplishments…and friendships and relationships and reputations were marred and lost over misunderstandings, deceptions, ill-spoken words, rekindled affirmations of differences in philosophies and world-views, too-personal revelations and fear, self-disclosures meant to validate and encourage that shook foundations of confidence and intimacy with the past.
These things and people and situations have gone away from us in their familiar and everyday forms, but they still exist in our minds and as substance that we might not readily perceive or recognize. Our loved-ones and accomplishments live in our memories and in the pictures on our walls, the stories we tell across the fire-pit in the backyard, around the dining-room table, or in the living and remembering ‘living’ and ‘family’ rooms of our gentle homes…they become the standards against which we measure love and closeness and commitment and desire, the benchmarks for future accomplishments and lived-dreams, the substance for the stories that we have to tell so that we can live and endure our sometimes harsh and un-tender lives. The cottonwood will continue to nourish the grass and other shrubs and bushes in the yard, as well as whatever tree we plant in its stead, as its monstrous roots decompose and reform in their mineral elements as nutrients and sustenance and the other stuff of life.
Some things end and some things continue on their circuits, cycles, repetitions, re-happenings, and re-constitutions…hopes and dreams that expired can be grieved and mourned and reborn…lives and relationships hurt or lost can be gleaned-from and cherished with lessons learned and priorities re-evaluated and commitments recommitted and memories relived in the expanse of eternity in the retellings and re-livings and the passing-on of his mother’s eyes to his baby boy…and it’s another moment and another day and another year that we celebrate and another opportunity to do those things that we didn’t do in the many yesterdays of the past year, to accomplish those minor and major goals and dreams that populate our sleeping and waking moments…and to tell those we love that we love them…that we love them…and we go on….
You have encapsulated the human idea of the passing of time very nicely here Scott. Good stuff, as usual. 🙂
January 1, 2010 at 5:30 pm
Thank you, Jason. 🙂
January 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm
Sorry, that I never comment on your writing. It’s very good, sometimes I am a little embarrassed to sneak over here and read.
Uhm.. putting away Christmas for another year. Hum. I never do it! I never put it up, and I never take it down. If it was up to me.. I would ignore it all together! :]
Uh.. yes, sorry. Maybe I will comment more.
January 3, 2010 at 1:43 am
You have a tender and reluctantly brave soul, Miss Ruby Jean, so don’t be embarrassed. You are a welcome visitor. 🙂
And I mostly agree with you about the Christmas stuff…why are we like that?
Thank you for visiting…I will look for you again. 🙂
January 3, 2010 at 5:54 am
You touch on what pretty much is the center of my life. I think constantly, and inexorably about the end of………..(you fill in the blank). We take so much in this life for granted, and forget to say “I love you” to those who we really do love. We miss the opportunities to cherish a moment that may seem like nothing, but yet we remember it for some reason years later. We take for granted those few short years our animals are with us, and forget sometimes what real joy they can bring us.
I walked through the hangar with Grandpa and felt unbelievably sad for what some might call a burnt heap of inanimate objects. In reality, these “things” were huge chunks of peoples lives, things that defined much of who they were, and now it’s all gone except for the memories.
All we can do is take this time we have here and love as deeply and as honestly as we can those who give our lives meaning.
Thank you, Dad.
I love you 🙂
January 6, 2010 at 4:04 pm
Very well said, Nathan, and you’re welcome. I love you, too. Thank you. 🙂
January 6, 2010 at 8:45 pm
Christmas has always seemed like such an artificial holiday. There are so many who claim to love it, but all I see is a frenzy of consumerism. The cards from folks you barely hear from with the annual Xmas card and the cheery fairy tale ‘news’ letters. The heavy obligation to reciprocate this meaningless activity. Or the hanging (& unhanging) of the lights you described. Not to mention the prerequisite gift exchanges. I much prefer that chance discovery of something that is the perfect fit for the special ones in my life for no particular occasion at all… except to remind them that I was thinking of them.
The endings are pretty much the ebb and flow of life it seems. I sometimes think what bothers me most about endings in lives or loves is the looking back at opportunities that were missed. The kinder word that might have been said, or the more loving or forgiving action I might have taken. Or is it that I’ve reached an age where it’s just easier to let go of things and possibly cling less than I did in earlier years? I suspect that the angst of my younger years has simply been smoothed over by the passage of time. I don’t miss it.
Have to say that it’s refreshing to know there is someone else out there who finds the sport world to be pretty silly. The image of a dog humping a leg referring to the Winner’s Dance had me laughing out loud. Adult men playing ball for unimaginable millions. I’ve often wondered what it says about our society that we pay these men playing ball so much more than our teachers, or first responders, or nurses, or… or people who actually do things that matter.
June 7, 2012 at 2:07 am
I am so with you on the Christmas thing…commercialism, false sentiment…putting on a show. I suggested last year that we stop celebrating it (as we have moved past the “real” meaning of the season…and have considered the message in the “Define Necessity” slogan)…and I was met with scowls and reminded that it’s for the children. I prefer your non-season gift-giving…the thoughtfulness that drives such a notion.
And yes, endings are part of the rhythm and cycle of life and it’s good that we can evaluate them with a bit of wisdom and change our previous patterns of not sharing our feelings of love and friendship with our dear ones until it’s too late to make a difference….
There are definitely others who believe the sports world to be pretty silly…and ridiculous in what is given/spent to have these men do what they do with a ball. Priorities…I’d say they’re messed-up….
Thank you for such a detailed and thoughtful comment, Gunta…it’s so nice when you visit. 🙂
June 7, 2012 at 7:13 am