Nothing Ends, Everything Changes
It was scientist Antoine Lavoisier who described this universal law: “Matter is neither created nor destroyed, only transformed.” However, does this key principle of chemistry also ring true for that which is immaterial, like feelings, emotions, and thoughts?
This question strikes us most when we go through a difficult situation like a loss or a break-up.
“A beginning never disappears, not even with an end.”
For example, when a relationship comes to an end and we were not prepared for it to happen. Or when someone we love passes away and we intensely feel the need to see them again. Or when something valuable to us all of a sudden disappears from our world…
Can we actually say that when something ends, it ends forever? Does death or long distance put an end to things for good?
The endings we go through in life
It is common knowledge that everything that has a beginning must also have an end. In reality, we have been saying goodbye for a great part of our lives. We begin new chapters and take on new situations, which leads us to have to leave others buried in the past.
When we are born we say goodbye to that warm, comforting womb. We say goodbye to the time in our lives in which we don’t have to do anything at all to have our basic needs satisfied.
From there, we start off on an unceasing cycle of beginnings and endings.
When we go to school, we say goodbye to that life we spent at home with our mothers. We say goodbye to childhood in order to blossom into adolescence. We say goodbye to adolescence in order to become adults. Eventually, we start preparing ourselves to say goodbye to life.
We live a multitude of “endings” that come slowly but steadily, marking our lives.
We change schools and say goodbye to those bonds we had formed and expectations that had floated around in our minds. We move to a new neighborhood and discover that everything changes, and one life ends as another begins. We find ourselves at a new job, or living in a different country, or we simply see that each itself must come to an end.
We are exposed to endings throughout our whole life, but we aren’t even aware of it.
Endings that truly shake us are those that put us face to face with the eternal, the infinite. Those that make us think about the concepts of “forever” and “never again.” Looking straight out into nothingness can be a shocking and terrible experience.
The ending without an ending
If we have a loved one who passes away, or someone who simply disappears from our life with no explanation, what makes us suffer is the awareness that we will never see this person again. We suffer knowing we will never physically have this person in front of us again, and that the bond we shared with them will never be the same again.
Those are things that we know and, even though it is this way, we keep experiencing love for that person, and feeling like we need to see them again. That is drama: the bond is broken, but the feeling it created never fades. Though that person is no longer physically there, the affect that person had can remain with you forever.
We all resist letting go of someone we love. We can’t forget about it just like that. We can’t help missing the comfort of the routine of seeing or hearing that person that made us feel so safe, happy, and at peace.
Even if our relationship with the person we have lost was not the best, knowing that person was there gave us a feeling that there was still order in the universe. But when they have left us, there lies a dark abyss into which we don’t want to look.
Everything that begins comes to an end. And, in turn, everything that ends starts all over again on a different level.
It happens in the world of physics and chemistry, and also in the human world. None of the profound realities in which we have lived is going to disappear. None of the deep feelings we have felt will ever be extinguished.
After a loss, absence and emptiness are very difficult feelings to endure. However, with time, in the space that was once filled by love, but then became empty, will grow into a flourishing garden of beautiful memories that will be with us and comfort us always.
We will always miss that person, but also in that garden will grow a profound feeling of gratitude that will help us to appreciate our own lives even more.
In one way or another, those who have left us also stay with us always. Even when we don’t even think of them anymore, what their loss has stirred in our hearts allows us to be who we are. It has helped us grow, and helps define who we are.
Pain becomes prolonged and unsustainable only if we cannot completely accept those endings that we had no control over. Equally, we must also accept those beginnings that can’t be, and won’t be, a repetition of the past.
Image courtesy of Tomasz Sienicki