We’ve all been there. At some point in our lives, something we held dear came to an end. Whether it’s a relationship, job, or experience; letting go is never easy. Several years ago I realized something that’s made it easier to cope with endings. Keep reading to learn more.
I initially published this article in September of 2016 after a difficult ending to a two-week camping adventure. Since then, I’ve experienced even more endings. Vacations, time with friends, and countless summers have all come to a predictable, yet abruptly sad ending.
In more recent times, we’ve experienced a decade ending. I referred to this as the end of an era—I was clearly unaware of what I was eluding to. 2020 started off strong. My husband, Jer, and I started the year at our annual year-end retreat in the Northwoods. We enjoyed a relatively mild winter with lots of time outdoors. We even managed to squeeze in an extended cross country road trip before life as we knew it came to an end.
It seemed to happen overnight. Schools, workplaces, and restaurants all closed down. Unless you were deemed an essential business, you were told to stay home to slow the spread of covid-19. While these efforts seem to have slowed the spread of the virus, there were other unintended consequences.
Unemployment shot through the roof. People lost jobs, incomes, and childcare. With no social outlets, loneliness surged; as did suicides, opioid addiction, and domestic violence. And then, of course, there were the heartbreaking deaths associated with the virus.
In what seemed like a blink of an eye, life as we knew it came to an end for nearly everyone on earth.
As bad as I made the last few months sound, I’m filled with a great deal of hope. As a country, we weren’t all that happy before this went down. Many of us were deeply in debt, overworked, over-busy, and less than hopeful about the future.
Once we settled into this new normal, I heard over and over how happy people were to be able to slow down, find balance, and spend more time with their family. For many families, it was a much-needed reset.
I’d be amiss to not mention how deeply sad I am that it had to go down this way. I’d love to live in a world where there is no illness and death. I’d love to live in a world where it’s easier to change when we’re feeling unhappy. While we can’t go back and change the past and events that led up to this, we can change how we respond and move forward.
When we’re ten years past this, I imagine most people will have moved on and will have forgotten this time in history. I imagine that many people are ready to get back to the way things were as soon as they’re able. But I also believe that there’s a good portion of people whose lives will be forever changed. I also believe that these people will cause a ripple effect with the change we’ve all been longing for.
We just need to look to nature to see the truth. Everything ends. Every tree in the forest eventually topples over. Every season ends, every leaf drops, every star burns out. What we often fail to see is that this isn’t only the end, but also a new beginning. When the tree topples to the forest floor, it becomes a beautiful new home to fungus, flowers, and butterflies.
I believe the same is true when things end in our own lives. The truth is those good things must end to make room for better things to come.
I realized this truth when I first wrote this post four years ago. We had just finished a two-week camping trip in the Superior National Forest and on Lake Superior’s North Shore. This is a special place for a place for Jer and I. It’s a place we discovered together and it feels like home; perhaps more so than our actual home. I miss it when I’m not there and feel heartbroken when I leave.
As we broke down camp that trip, I was overcome with sadness. I couldn’t bear to leave that beautiful place. That overwhelming sadness confused me. I enjoyed my everyday life and was incredibly grateful for all that we’ve experienced. I wondered; was I not grateful enough? How could I feel so sad?
Then it hit me. There’s so much more that we want to see and do beyond that amazing place. The next adventure can’t begin until this one comes to an end. I thought about all of the things in my life that ended and the possibilities they made room for. Even though I still felt sad, I was also hopeful.
On our somber drive down the majestic shoreline, we happened upon a newly reopened black beach we had never visited before. It was an unforgettable experience for us both. And an experience we wouldn’t have had if our most recent adventure had not ended.
Looking back from four years in the future, I see how many more wonderful things that ending made room for. I went on my first solo camping trip. I ventured out for my first solo road trip. I visited every state park in Minnesota. We went on an epic three-week tour of the big island of Hawaii. We toured coastal towns and mountain villages in rural Mexico. We took an amazing cross country road trip to connect with friends. And stand up paddle boarded in the Atlantic Ocean.
And yes, all of those endings were hard too. But it’s easier now that I know the truth. That every ending makes way for new beginnings.
View this post on Instagram
And with this post, our time in Mexico comes to an end. It’s kind of sad when good things come to an end. But what if it’s not really the end, but the beginning of a new adventure? . When we flew home from our Hawaiian wedding 15 years ago, I was heart broken. I wanted to stay there forever. It feels like home because that’s where we became #hollyandjer. But looking back I can see that ending that adventure made way for so many more. Each time we became a little more brave and our adventures get better each time. . I really didn’t want to leave 82 degree Mexico to go back to 32 degree Minnesota. But I knew that in doing so, the next adventure could start to take shape. It’s not the end but a new beginning. . What helps you when good things come to an end? . . . #newbeginnings #dawn #newday #newadventures #happyendings #loveyourwholelife #notallwhowanderarelost #theroadlesstraveled #travel #gypsysoul #visitmexico #jalisco #puertovallarta #conchaschinas #journal
The next time you’re faced with a good thing ending, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” Dream about the new adventures that are waiting to begin. Be willing to let go of a good thing to make room for something great. Take risks, take action, and venture into the unknown.