We live in a world of classifications and labels. White. Black. Short. Tall. Even things beyond human characteristics, things that we take for granted, are labeled, like colors or numbers.
We are conditioned from a young age to find patterns and trends in the world around us. To classify people, places, and things. To recognize things like they are. Things like beginning and end.
Ever since we were little, people read us stories. Fairy tales began with “once upon a time” and ended with “happily ever after.”
It’s a beautiful idea really, that once a problem has been solved, that is the end. You know what happened and you figured it out and the contradictory troubles and joys of that particular plot line are finished. But the problem here is we come to expect this in reality. Of course we don’t really expect to live happily ever after, but without even realizing it, we start categorizing our lives like we do everything else. We recognize the highs and lows as a sort of plot line. We remember certain moments as defining or life changing. Or we work towards certain goals, expecting those to be the beginning or end of a chapter of our novel. When times are especially tough, we look not only for that happy ending, but at the very least we wait for that moment that marks “the end” and tells us it’s time to move on.
How often did we take that “the end” for granted as a child.
Because life doesn’t work like that. There is no clean ending. We build up these expectations for people and situations and when we don’t get the confrontation or happily ever after we had hoped would come from it, we are disappointed. And at first I found that depressing. In so many situations I have spent time wishing someone would just reach out and turn the page, to have that big moment or conversation that I knew ended it all, good or bad, and then finally be able to move on. I was ready for a blank page.
But most of the time we don’t get that blank page. Things change. People leave. We don’t always have time to adjust or say goodbye. You find yourself saying “if I could only go back.”
But you can’t go back. And that’s why it’s so important to live every moment while you have the chance instead of waiting for the next blank page. Because no matter how hard you try to erase certain things, you usually can’t. You can move on, you can refuse to allow people and places of the past to control your present, you can gain wisdom and strength. However, no matter how hard you try, your page is never going to be entirely blank again. These things in our past, they always leave a mark, like a story written darkly in pencil that someone tried desperately to erase: it looks like it’s gone, but when you shine a light on the page, you can see that it is in fact not blank and never truly will be clean again.
But, I have slowly come to realize, that’s OK.
I would like to think that the reason life doesn’t have clear endings, the reason we don’t get a clean break, is because the messy, the unknown, the unpredictable, that’s what keeps us going. That’s what makes life exciting. That’s what gives us hope.
Because as long as things never have a certain ending, we don’t lose the hope that one day, they just might begin again, and maybe better than ever.
Now, I’m not suggesting we dwell on that hope. In the wise words of Albus Dumbledore “it’s does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.” But don’t let the ending ruin the rest of the plot. Dont think that just because something ended badly, it doesn’t deserve a place in your story. Don’t wait around for your “the end.” If you want something to end, then write that ending.
However, if you’re waiting for the new chapter, the new blank page and it’s not coming, that’s ok. You don’t have to force it. Maybe it’s not time. Maybe it never will be.
In the last year I kept saying “well it doesn’t feel over yet. I feel like there’s more.” And I was right. There was more. But that’s because sometimes there’s always going to be more. When people and things really affect us, we don’t just let them go. We will always remember the way they affected us and probably could still talk for hours about it years down the road.
But it’s ok not to have a clearly defined ending. Not everything in life is a story. Our lives’ novels aren’t nicely wrapped up for readers’ enjoyment. In real life, you can read multiple stories at once. Characters can play different roles in different chapters of our lives. And one chapter doesn’t have to end for another to begin. Life is your story and you get to write it.
So stop trying to define the people and events in life. You might not think you do it, but as soon as you take notice, I guarantee you will find that you do.
Stop trying to label people as the villain or the prince. Life isn’t that black and white and most people are a little bit of both.
Stop expecting certain things, because it usually just leads to disappointments. Life doesn’t follow a plot line.
And most importantly, stop waiting for plot points and character developments that may never happen. Stop thinking that stories have to be over. Stop searching for “the end.” Not all stories have to be finished. I guarantee you, yours is so far from over.
“And I keep trying to figure out who you are to me, but maybe all that we were meant to be, is beautifully unfinished.” -Ella Henderson