What is the Purpose of an Ending?

Everything has an ending, doesn't it? When we're talking about life and relationships, the ending often brings out many emotions. Opposite to the ending, the start and beginning are often associated with joy and happiness. Other endings and beginnings, however, are often not so defined.

When you're hungry, you feel a sense of gratification the minute you start eating. When you're on an airplane starting a 5-day vacation to a tropical island, you're happy and relaxed knowing the next few days will be enjoyable. When a baby is born, happiness is associated with the event. As the child grows up, all he is concerned with is how he will enjoy that day.

But when you finish eating and you're full, you quickly forget the gratification you felt minutes earlier. Your return trip home on the airplane is filled with only memories of the enjoyment you experienced, as you slowly adjust back into the thinking mode of daily life that you associate with grunt work. When the baby grows up, has kids and grand-kids of his own, he will lie on his deathbed where there is no happiness to be found. As the child grew older, he found less and less happiness from life.

But you will feel hungry again. You will look forward to another relaxing vacation sometime in the future. The grandfather on his deathbed will look in his grand-kids eyes and remember his own childhood, feeling as though his life will somehow continue through theirs. The child grew up with memories of times when life was easy and now he spends his days working for just a taste of that pleasure.

The end, it would seem, is a means to the beginning. Without the end we could not have a beginning and therefore could not experience the joy and happiness associated with it.

But perhaps this ruthless cycle of beginnings and endings is trying to tell us something. In between the ticking second hand of a clock, between each beat of our heart, for the 300 or 400 milliseconds our are eyes are closed every time we blink there lies a calm silence; an eerie hint that maybe the ending has no relevance whatsoever.

Perhaps endings and beginnings only exist as a distraction from what's real. Maybe they are nature's backup plan; a method of ensuring that we realize we need to do something with our life before time "runs out". Or perhaps endings and beginnings exist to give us structure within which to work. This post will end, so I'm able to write a new one tomorrow. The day will end, so a new one will start tomorrow.

But what if we lived life with no expectation of an end? Would it make us complacent or fearless? Would we become lazy and feel as though we can always put things off until tomorrow? Or would we recognize the potential of now and do something incredible with it? What if we stopped thinking about days as beginning and ending and rather thought about them as lines on a sheet of paper, waiting to be filled with words?

We're all made of energy and energy truly cannot be destroyed. Energy doesn't have an ending and neither do we. Therefore the purpose of an ending must be to remind us that right now really matters, that we must stop waiting for the end and start doing something with the moment.

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  1. Thought provoking post Raam. While I agree that living without an expectation of an end is full of possibilities, I have seen it work the other way as well, when we take things/life for granted. But when I think of the finite number of hours that I may have left in my life, it spurs me to action, helps me clarify how I want to spend my time and with whom, etc.

    Yes, it is all energy, but I like the feeling of choosing how I’m going to spend the time I’m given in this life form 😉

    • I agree, Sandi! I don’t think we should live without an expectation of an end, but rather that we should recognize the limited amount of time we have in this body, while also understanding that we are not the body.

      • Got it! That makes more sense to me. I once did a personal development workshop that had us figure out the years, then number of hours (averaged out) that we’d have to live. It was amazing to see a finite number, and it had me be much more mindful of my time.

        It left a lasting impact. Now, when I’m doubtful about doing something I ask myself, “Is this worth an hour of my time that I’ll never get back?” and the answer is always immediate. For me it seemed to act as a way of connecting to my intuition about what was best in the moment.

  2. “When you’re hungry, you feel a sense of gratification the minute you start eating. ”

    Such a great EQ (essential question) as we say in the education biz!

    So many people are on what I’ve heard called a “hedonic treadmill.” An ending means an anxious beginning to get the next big EFF “fix”–food, film, fashion, f—, etc.

    The idea of “endings” calls into question the whole nature of time (or samsara in Hinduism). If not a veil, it is a strong reminder that there is always something new.

    As you explain (through the metaphor of lined paper), “What’s next?” is the question of a soul with “great expectations”…looking for “streams in the wilderness.”

    Maintain your philosophical voice, Raam. It’s refreshing.

    • “What’s next?” is the question of a soul with “great expectations”…looking for “streams in the wilderness.”

      Beautifully put, Mark! I find that knowledge of the end drives me to find purpose for my actions in the moment. It forces me to look forward and make realistic choices about how I’m going to, as Sandi said, “spend the time I’m given in this life form”.


  • Steve Griffin February 1, 2011
  • Sandra Lee February 1, 2011
  • Sandi Faviell Amorim February 1, 2011