Response Crafting

Endings – real vs. artificial; felt vs. missed

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It is funny that we sometimes put arbitrary, artificial endings on things. And then get sad about something that hasn’t even stopped.

People ask me how my Labor Day weekend was.

And sure, I can talk about my weekend – mostly at a high level, because I’m like that, so I’ll say “it was great – I went for a ride” or “awesome – I read and/or wrote some words” and that’s enough for most people and an okay exchange, I think, for both parties.

But other people ask me how my summer was.

Past tense.

And I may play nice, but I bristle a little.

Because it’s odd enough that we see this holiday in this way – as a constructed “end” of summer. Because, you know, it’s… not. We’ve got the autumn equinox and when it comes to summer ending, that’s when it actually does. So when we talk about Labor Day in this way – as marking The End of Summer – it’s weird because we’re not actually discussing the real end – not the transition of celestial bodies – but are instead talking about the end of some connotation; some abstract – the end of… what? Of fun? Of sunshine? Of sangria?

And that’s the odder part about it – that there’s this element of sadness; an unnecessary mourning for something that doesn’t go like that. “Summer” – in all these “soft” senses – isn’t really clipped to an end at that date.

We’ve still got so much weather left to live after Labor Day.

In fact, in the three years I have lived in Chicago (which isn’t long, but it’s enough), I have found that by far my favorite time of the year is mid-August to mid-October, when the air is still heavy and the temperature eases, and the whole thing has this aura of… lovely; “forgiving.”

Because time, it is a continuum. And seasons cycle into each other a bit more gradually than we sometimes give them credit for.

On the other hand, some things really do come to an abrupt end. And sometimes we miss these endings entirely.

Other things really do wrap up like that and wholly cease to be.

And it’s funny because sometimes, with these things, there is no milestone – no marker. Sometimes the moment itself is so tiny, we miss it altogether, deciphering it only in retrospection and “rediscovering” it in this way miles later down the road. And for all of the hoopla we make about the endings that scarcely matter, sometimes we miss the ones that actually mean something when we’re there.

You see a film together. This moment is next to nothing going in. This moment is forever a milestone looking back. You don’t even remember what film it was or if you got popcorn or who else was there, though you know that others were. You are pretty sure you watched the whole film – and maybe you even liked it; maybe it made you tear up a little; maybe it was that good – and at the end of the night, you are pretty sure that you say goodnight like countless times before, but despite all the things you aren’t sure of, you are absolutely positive that you never knew that that goodnight would be the last.

There is no holiday for that sort of thing; no notification on our calendars to alert us to what’s in store.

It’s sort of futile, then, to burden ourselves with our own idea of when we think something is ending.

We invite unnecessary sadness to something that didn’t even stop. We neglect to notice the moment when other things already have.

So the resolution, then, is a sense of presence: an appreciation for a moment (and, perhaps more importantly, a continuum of moments) while committing ourselves to a.) not missing its meaning, while also b.) not making it out to be something its not, all while c.) not rendering ourselves too senseless to realize whether or not the one that follows it is nearly identical; to stay awake to whether or not the things carried out beyond that, and how.

chicago-skyline-sunset

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