Someone recently got me thinking about two concepts that sound simple enough, but are much more elusive when you really think about them - beginnings and endings. How do you really know when something has begun? How do you really know when it ends?
It's not always as simple as watching a movie. Sometimes, people go through changes that shape who they become down the line. How do you really know when a fundamental change in your character has begun? How do you measure that change? How do you know when it ends?
The simple answer is - you can't. It's very hard to know the exact moment an optimist's spirit begins to break, or a pessimist begins to believe that life isn't as bad after all. It is similarly hard to know when a child begins to take on the characteristics of a teenager, or when a teenager takes their first step towards adulthood.
It might appear on the surface that knowing these things holds no real value. It doesn't really matter when these things happen, but only that these things happen. But one of the defining characteristics of this generation is confusion. We are all confused as to who we are, what we are, what we have to do, where we have to go. And understanding yourself can be a very good first step to knowing the answers to those questions.
All this brings me to a concept that I have struggled with my whole life - closure. I was once fanatically obsessed with getting closure, knowing when something is over, knowing exactly when I will start not feeling pain over the past anymore. It turns out that I misunderstood what closure even meant.
Because of certain things in our environment *cough* stupid movies and television shows *cough*, we may believe that closure comes one night when someone says something beautiful and profound, or when the clouds part to let through blinding sunshine, or when you ask the heavens for a sign and with a deafening thunderclap, it begins to rain. Those make for great dramatic scenes, but they don't represent real life at all. In real life, there is no one single moment when you stop missing someone, stop feeling regret for a wrong you committed in a moment of weakness, stop feeling sorrow for a friendship lost.
Time. That's all it takes. Time. I have come to genuinely believe that time heals all wounds. Or at least makes it easier to live with them. Because at the beginning, that pain is all you can think of. It's all that you see. And as time goes by, it grows smaller, dwarfed by new events, new moments of happiness, and pain. It keeps becoming a smaller part of you, until you realize that, hey, I can live with this now. What happened wasn't okay, but these things happen, and I can live with it now. It doesn't mean that you'll forget about it, it doesn't mean that it'll stop being significant. It'll just stop crippling you like it used to.
We are all attacked by existential questions from time to time. Who am I? Am I doing the right thing? Where am I going? The scary thing is that there is no right answer to these questions. There is no one who can give you those answers. In the end, no matter how much someone tells you - "Oh my God, we're so similar!' - we are all ultimately different people on different paths. As frightening as it sounds, only you can answer those questions.
To wrap up, I said that we are all different people on different paths. There are two ways of thinking about this, I suppose. Do you believe that the universe is pre-determined, and we are all assigned in advance a path we must go down, chosen by fate and luck? Or do you believe that we are all born without an instruction manual, that we have to make our own, forge our own path as we move forwards?
I like to think that the latter is true.
What about you?