Beginnings, Endings, Messes in the Middle
Welcome to my front porch.
It’s the place I love to read, think, meditate, and visit.
For several glorious weeks a year, the porch becomes central to my existence. It’s a place where neighbors of all kind, nature and the divine all seem to seamlessly come together.
Here it’s the aroma of a woodstove fire intermingled with freshly brewed coffee that sets the stage for conversation or meditation with a back drop of snow-capped peaks. All senses seem to be heightened and enlivened in the rarified mountain air. Even regular Columbia dark roast drip tastes exotic in this setting.
It’s a place where I can be unplugged… yet connected to the people and things I care about.
It’s not unusual for a raucus Kingfisher or curious fox or even mule deer to come visiting at the porch. They are such regulars we name them. Mutt and Jeff, the young mule deer twins seem to like the smell of my coffee. A lot of sniffing going on.
Technically I’m on holidays, but I’m such a ravin’ fan of you all, I didn’t want to miss to opportunity to connect. This months’ blog post is coming to you via a satellite dish, a solar panel and a couple or truck batteries. A quintessential blend of high tech and old school seems to get the job done.
Beginnings: Endings: Messes In The Middle
As usual, I’m writing as much to myself as I am to you.
Our lives are shaped by a series of stories, each with its own unique trajectory woven together in the fabric of life.
We leave home. We make a new home. We enter our career building and family raising years. Eat. Sleep. Work. Rest. Repeat. There’s a few other things thrown in of course.
We end one piece of our life’s work and begin another.
Endings and beginnings are bittersweet—we celebrate each with a keen awareness of the other.
There’s emphatic and universal agreement on the importance of good beginnings.
We celebrate marriages, ship launchings, grand openings, new babies and a ton of other stuff with great optimism. A good start provides a strong and sound foundation for a relationship, where a bad start often results in a lot of extra work to get things back on track, or else the relationship might simply go from bad to worse, and then fail.
When people join a system (a family, a group, a function or an organization), that system has an established purpose. The people who join need to bring something of value to that system’s purpose or else they don’t find their place.
A good beginning depends on having a clear sense of belonging from the beginning!
The Messy Middle:
Here’s where things get interesting.
The world changes. The ground shifts. Things go horribly wrong. Opposition or inadequacies arise. Loss, crisis, hardship. People can get horribly stuck. Sometimes we find we’re running flat- out only to discover we’re running in the wrong direction. Weariness and wilderness wandering sets in. It’s the “make it or break it zone” where people have the opportunity to turn struggles into strengths, or find whole new levels of personal resilience.
Author Bill George in his book “Finding Your True North“ describes this fairly predictable life crisis as a “crucible experience” that tests us as leaders to our limits. As painful as these experiences might be, the crucible challenges our underlying assumptions about who we are.
Crucible times help us redefine our values and priorities and force us to come to grips with our view of ourselves and our place in this world!
Why are endings and having things end well so important?
If you and I are fortunate enough to navigate the messy middle and get to have a say in how things end off, then we are truly blessed. As I come to a close of my MTR time, I truly count myself as that.
Good endings ensure that the next person who follows can begin unencumbered. But it’s inevitable that endings and beginnings all come around; if a new person brings something left over from another place, they bring those dynamics into the new situation. Ideally, everyone will leave their old situations well and bring the full-bodied gifts from their past into their present.
Think about a time when you left a situation or relationship in good shape with no regrets. It might have felt like everything that needed to be said was said and now you were free to go on to your next chapter with the acknowledgement and best wishes of others.
Acknowledgements might include:
- the recognition of what you’ve accomplished
- the possibilities of others building on your contribution
- the part you had played in this system even though you happen to be leaving
- the value of the experience
- the gifts you developed that you’ll be taking with you
- the memories and friendships you’ll take with you
- the appreciation you feel
- possibly the sadness at leaving
- the joy of what was coming next
Acknowledging these things is a key practice in creating a healthy, thriving workplace culture.
When these things are said, we can look each other in the eye, trade a knowing smile around the amazing things we’ve accomplished together and feel free to move forward on a good basis!
Oh yeah. It’s not all about me. Just tryin’ to live it out as I move on this month.
Got any beginnings, endings or messes you’re dealing with right now?
Drop me a line. Always thrilled to hear from you and respond.
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