Graceful Endings

Image by pcorreia on Flikr Creative Commons

Image by pcorreia on Flikr Creative Commons

Yesterday, I completed a task I customarily set myself for the festive break – to transfer all important and dates and information from my old diary to the new one for the coming year. I’m talking about a paper diary rather than any kind of electronic one. I prefer to keep it that way as I enjoy the physical sensation of writing on ‘real’ paper.

The question then arose: ‘What do I do with the old, spent diary?’ – recycle? Shred and compost? Burn?
I decided this time to plump for a ceremonial burning and created a little ritual offering appreciation for the year that’s past, everything I’ve learned, the experiences I’ve had and all the sentient beings who’ve helped me along the way. That felt satisfying!

‘We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.’
John O’Donohue

Here are some questions for reflection, inspired by John O’ Donohue and the experience of committing my old diary to the transformative energy of fire:

What dreams did I begin 2013 with?

Where did my eyes focus? Where was I blind?

When did I react and learn the lessons?

What else did I learn?

What new ideas alighted in my mind?

What differences did I notice in those closest to me?

In what ways did I neglect myself or others?

What did I begin that might endure?

How were my conversations?

What did I do for the poor and excluded?

In what ways did I honour my ancestors?

When could I have taken more risks? When could I have been more careful?

Where did I allow myself to receive: love, assistance, compliments, respect?

With whom did I feel most myself?

What touched me? How deep did it imprint?

What visitations did I notice from the past and from the future?

What did I avoid?

From the evidence, why was I given this year – 2013?

Living more simply is a lot about quitting, letting go, heartfelt endings. For many of us, stress is all too often present due to the complexity, over-stimulation and speed of modern life. Simplifying, de-stressing, becomes a path of weeding out what no longer serves us, thinning the superficial and meaningless, composting redundant habits, addictions, forms of communication and ways of relating.

In order to engage fully with the new, we first need to create the space, spare capacity and energy in our lives. This doesn’t mean forcing ourselves, through willpower, to take on ever more projects and tasks, but allowing ourselves to stand for what best serves us (…and therefore others too) and to say a firm ‘No’ to whatever it is that stands in the way of our calling.

Endings do not need to be wrenching, splitting, abandoning or any other kind of tearing apart. They can be inspired, joyful and resolute just like beginnings – graceful endings…

Thankyou to all of you for supporting my writing by subscribing to and commenting on this blog.

Wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year in every way.


2 Responses to Graceful Endings

  1. Jamie Robe January 2, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Happy New Year Sally!

    Wow, you scared me for a moment with the title… I thought you might have decided to move to Tibet or something and give up the blog! I would truly miss your insightful stories and other things you share with us. So I was really happy when I read your post.

    I will need time to contemplate the questions you offered above. I think it is fascinating that we humans love to mark the changing seasons and so on. I guess it goes way way back to when we needed that information on a very existence-level. I like dhow you burned it as a reflection-ceremony.

    BTW I had to give up something 2 days before New Years… my beloved Prius! I had one of the original 2001 hybrids and had 140,000 miles on it… it was my dream car when I got it in 2001. I hate driving in cars, but I always felt good about contributing less CO2 and saving a lot of gas. I was determined to keep it till the wheels fell off, even though it was getting a bit on rough side. Then spontaneously my wife started suggesting I get another car – newer, safer, etc. I was actually fighting this concept for a couple of days, during our Christmas vacation, when I found out there were various deals and incentives here to buy EVs. I ended up with a 2014 Chevy Volt, and I can tell you it is my dream car now! I am plugged in and charging :) But parting with the Prius felt like saying goodbye to an actual friend.

    You know, I read a few years ago how the engineers in Japan (I am a computer engineer in the US) actually keep a representative sample of computers, circuit boards, car test parts, and so , that they have in a sense had to destroy during research and development work all year – and they actually have a ceremony of thanks to the spirit of those things.

    So I guess what I am saying is that burning a diary or having a parting ceremony with a car or burned out test circuit… I guess that is not too crazy after all. Those ‘objects’ have a life, maybe just being intertwined with people.

    Peace for 2014!

  2. Sally January 5, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Wishing you peace for 2014 too, Jamie. I used to think ceremony was a bit namby pamby and maybe something from the dark ages that we were attached to simply through habit. Perhaps some ceremonies have become rather meaningless e.g. weddings and funerals where not much deep thought has gone into their conception. However, since then I’ve allowed myself to experiment with the whole idea of ceremony and have found that it can be incredibly moving, connecting and life-affirming. I have been touched sometimes by the simplest of actions and intentions performed in conjunction with ceremony. For example, I’ve been with groups where we’ve ended a workshop by lighting a small candle each as we voice our intentions going forth from the day and found myself brought to tears by the energy behind our convictions and determination.

    I smiled reading your account of replacing your car. I hear a lot of gratitude in what you say about your old car and your reluctance, and willingness at the same time, to let go of it. I too think of objects as having ‘lives’ in a sense. They’re all made of the same elements/energies as the rest of us, after all, and they have a ‘life’ in connection with us that has a start, middle and end.

    Enjoy your low carbon travelling!

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