A daisy chain of unrelated topics connected by braided common themes — frustration and disappointment — have led me to repeating the four words we need to keep in mind whenever we face echoing head noise. I feel strongly about all four, and have a printed summary taped to my computer screen as a relentless personal reminder. Font size and emphasis are by design. I have used this example in recent coaching sessions with friends dealing with divorce, pandemic frustration, job loss, and a brutal emotional breakup. Each time, the logic behind owning these four words seemed to resonate: Beginning. Middle. End. Gratitude.
Whether we are talking about writing a story, dealing with a job loss, navigating a pandemic, or love gone wrong, each event has a beginning, middle, and end.
In the photograph, the word ‘Beginning’ is printed using the smallest font. Beginnings are quick, surprise or subtle, and don’t last long. Expanding experiences quickly supersede the beginning, and grow as interactions unfold. The ‘Beginning’ is simply the launch.
The ‘MIDDLE’ is shown in the photograph with the largest font, which represents this stage as hosting the bulk of our experiences. Modest beginnings quickly yield to ever-expanding inventories of details, incidents, and memories. Much like Act Two in a movie is when the bulk of the action takes place, the Middle is where complexities occur.
The ‘End’ is in bold type, ended by a bold period, for a reason: When something ends, the mind must treat that ending with a finality. It serves no purpose to stew on unchangeable events. Respect the ‘End’ as exactly that — a finality beyond which hypothetical “what ifs” do not exist.
Everything has a beginning, middle, and end. Every movie does, every novel does, every stage of life does, every relationship does, every job does, and every significant emotional event thrust upon us does. It is the ending that rupture the heart, soul, and ego.
Given this unfolding reality, the choice becomes obvious: How are we going to deal with what the mind returns to? For that, we go to the lonely word below: Gratitude.
We can choose to be grateful for the start-to-finish of almost everything. Or we can choose to say, “The hell with gratitude,” and reject the idea. Often, the evolution of something over time is constructed by a sustained series of decisions, each of which was good at the time. Times change, circumstances change, people change. What does not change is knowing that you did the best you could as these things and choices transpired.
Even in the aftershocks of an emotional breakup — a real crusher for so many since life gives us so few where we care about someone else more than ourselves — we can choose to be bitter about it, and carry that weight of bitterness forward — or be grateful to have had it, learned from it, and felt it. There are scant few people in life you will be truly emotionally vulnerable to; and when a door shuts for good, each joins what I call “our Lifetime Hall of Fame.” The Hall is exclusive company. Many are eligible, few gain entry. I can count mine on one hand. My guess is that you can too. Rather than stew over love lost, whenever you think of that man or woman, immediately substitute his or her name with the four words above. Cherish the Beginning. Think warmly of the Middle. Respect the finality of the End. Have Gratitude for the totality of the learning experiences. Life would be cheaper without them. Cherish the good and move on.
The current pandemic will also eventually recede into the legend of lore. If you have weathered it — as have I — or have been lucky enough to avoid it, we can all be grateful for the sense of community forced conditions have made us examine. If you have lost a loved one, think back through the special nature of what he or she brought to your life.
The sun will shine again. For that, we can all be grateful.
Anne saysMay 7, 2020 at 3:17 am
What do you do when you’re doing everything you can and are still met with a no? I can’t even begin.
Ocean Palmer saysMay 7, 2020 at 9:26 am
You believe in yourself, block out the noise, and persevere. You do not panic, give up, or despair. You push on.
I do believe that now might be the time for people with ambition and fortitude to figure a way to forge their own paths forward via perhaps an entrepreneurial approach. The chasm between the ultra-rich and the working man or woman is way too wide for the traditional, structural middle class employment model to sustain with elasticity. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, the best way out of this mess might be to carve out a niche business that fills a need in the marketplace.
I had a discussion yesterday with a friend in London about what happens (or might happen) next. He sees a strong move toward nationalism, which seems regressive but logical. My take is that the pandemic will leap forward societal change a full generation — and the key now is to visualizing what the new rules and opportunities will be. We both agreed on something very important: It will be a thinking man and thinking woman’s marketplace. The answers will not be found by those who can execute but cannot visualize.
Which all takes me back to the very first sentence I shared, specifically the first four words: You believe in yourself.
Jeff Fain saysMay 7, 2020 at 9:23 am
Three layoffs since January 2018 to no fault of my own.
— we can choose to be bitter about it, and carry that weight of bitterness forward — or be grateful to have had it, learned from it, and felt it.
Now I can only focus on the why and what’s ahead. Patience is the now and the answer lies with the next adventure.
Ocean Palmer saysMay 7, 2020 at 9:28 am