Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I love oxymorons. I love aporia. I love simultaneous opposites. Words like "bittersweet" fascinate me to no end. Inherent duality in being and meaning is incredible, and something that can be given so much thought. I love that the human condition is marked by both good and evil within us, co-existing, and that we choose which to entertain. I love that we cannot know joy until we have lived sadness. That one depends on the other to be fully understood.
Right now I am rapidly approaching one of those dualities. This is not our first meeting, but rather two old friends crossing paths. I have been thinking about the End I am facing, and keep going back to an experience I had a few weeks ago when a friend was visiting from out of town. She and I were hanging out, enjoying lively conversation and catching up on each others' lives. With some of the time we had, I wanted to revisit some old journals. I was beginning to prepare a speech for my older brother's wedding and wanted to remind myself of our times together and the moments he'd impacted my life. As I let him know when I gave the speech, I was pleasantly surprised to find he crossed the pages of my life more times than I remembered offhand, and this made me glad. I like that he has been so indelible in my history.
But in strolling through the park of recorded memory, something beyond my brother kept giving me pause. I filled some 8 journals between the ages of 10 and 25 when I stopped writing by hand. Just before my accident. Each of those journals have "last" pages and, without fail, I used those spaces to reflect on the 200+ pages preceding those valuable "Ends."
Some of them are cheese-heavy, and some of them are gravely serious. But I feel they have wisdom in them all the same.
"Though now I fill this last bit of empty space, there is yet joy in me. For even as this chapter ends, a new one begins. For though this boy has come far, though he has grown so much, there is so much more growing to be done! Yes, questions have been answered that is true. Yet there are still MANY a question left unanswered and many more which haven't been discovered. Oh no. Though the pages end here, the adventure continues. My life goes on. My story presses on, just like time. I see no end ahead, for as yet my life is still just barely beginning! There is still so much to come in the future! This is not the end, this is not goodbye. This is merely - pause, look back, marvel and reminisce, smile and press forward - turn the page. Keep going. Look back frequently and never forget, but always, always continue moving forward. This is both a time of sorrow and of joy. Sorrow for the end of this installment of my life, yet joy for the start of the next. The end of one thing is only the beginning of the next. So don't stop, keep going and come along with me, the boy, as I close this book and happily begin the next looking forward to all that is yet to come."
- June 7, 2003 | Vol. III, page 202.
"And now comes the time of sadness and also of great joy. For I must close this journal. The end. Which is just the beginning. Much lies in the past. Finished. Behind me. I only look forward. To the future. To growing. Improvement. Progression. I know not where the path will lead..." - November 21, 2003 | Vol. VI, page 202.
"The last page always has added value for me. It's the last chance to get out everything you have and prepare for the new beginning. That's the best part about endings. It always means a new beginning. I hope this record will mean something to someone in the future. I would like to thank you, the reader, for taking the time to know me better. I must say with the written word and the ink slathered across these pages - nothing is hidden. It is my soul borne and bared. The roller coaster of my life and time...is herein contained. In some way I hope that something within these pages will touch someone, help them, change them as the exquisite words of my brother's journal burned in my soul. That way this record - through explaining who I am and my struggles, etc., will be of greater value. A thing to be treasured. [...]. Here's to the end, which, in reality, only signifies a new beginning." - February 7, 2005 | Vol. V, page 223.
"So many trials, so many struggles, so much CHANGE. If anything is clear in this volume, it's the reality of life. The joy, the pain, the doubt, the growth. I look back and revel at the past. I look forward and brace myself for the future. The road ahead is hard. I still have so much to figure out, so many answers to discover. The search is long from over. Come what may, whatever path I find, no matter how hard, will bring constants. I will continue to pen, I will continue to fight. I will continue to find love. I am not a quitter. Ever. So onward, onward, to the future..." - May 13, 2006 | Vol. VI, page 204.
The future is here. I haven't written a journal by hand in a long time, but that may be changing soon :) I've mostly been blogging in recent years. Yet again, this time in 2014 (Vol. IX?), I am on the last page. I take stock, I look back, I remember. I smile through my tears. For the laughs and the good times, as well as the bad. The victories and the struggles. I note the hard, hard work that has gone into this End. The hours I have put in to get to where I am. The precipice of change. The eve of beginning.
Outside of the realm of my pen, it's hard for me to get people to understand my feelings about goodbyes. Many are sad for the loss, and I can understand their point of view, but I am always happy for the hellos that goodbyes birth. I hope that those who feel like they are losing me, that I am saying a forever goodbye, find ways to stay in touch. To know that I cherish what we had and do not mourn for time-not-spent. I turn away and look forward and hope they will follow suit. We come in, we go out. We cross paths. Or we journey together. We help, we heal, we hope, we grow. We move. And we change. And then goodbye becomes hello. And the end becomes the start.
I cannot wait for this new chapter. I cannot wait for the new adventures. The new settings, the new opportunities to learn and grow and change and discover. The new people and places and experiences and life moments. This may be the craziest thing I've ever done. And it just may be the best thing I've ever done too. Who knows? That's part of the excitement of venturing into the unknown.
I'm inviting you to join me on my journey. And there's only one way to start. With --
The End (The Beginning).