Ends of Songs

t’s a random day of commuting. Sirius XM is playing on my radio. Like most other people I have to find the best song to listen to. I switch from one channel to the other—I think “hey that’s a great song, oh it’s over”. I get to another channel I think “wow I haven’t heard that song in a long while, oh it’s over”. I change stations again and again (good thing I have over 200 to choose from!!) and I keep hearing the ends of the songs I start thinking about what a weird commute this is—I’ve heard only the ends of many songs. I have heard no beginnings, no entire songs, only the ends. I start thinking about the significance of this—in our lives we want to hear whole songs– we want the entire relationship, we want the whole job story, we want to experience all lifecycle events. We don’t want the beginnings, and we certainly don’t want the ends.

Our storytelling metaphors are “once upon a time” followed by some middle event, followed by some struggle, followed by “and they lived happily ever after”. We close our books, we walk out of our movie theaters and have the “feel good” moments that we are supposed to have. When someone asks about the book, or the movie, we smile and say it was good. However, great filmmakers knew how to disrupt that pattern. When Psycho arrived in movie theaters, Alfred Hitchcock told viewers “no one will be admitted to the film after it starts”. This message told the audience you must pay attention to the beginning, the middle, and the end. The end of Psycho doesn’t leave us feeling good. It makes us feel disturbed. It makes us feel anxious. We may feel robbed of our traditional happy ending.

The end of life for most people is not a happy ending either. We know this movie–it is the most predictable story. If we ignore, deny, and don’t deal with our loved ones endings, we have all the confusion, anxiety, guilt and regret. We are the ones who are unsatisfied, we are the ones who feel bad. Like all other painful situations, we can go through the feelings or we can go around the feelings. I have worked with many people who mastered the art of going around the feelings. Through addictive behaviors or other non-helpful strategies, they didn’t deal with the pain. They numbed the pain. When the pain came back, they numbed it again and again and again. Their pain was gone, as long as they numbed it. When the time came to deal with the past pain, they had not only had the original pain but had the additional pain from their avoidance. Joe Louis, the famous heavyweight boxing champion of the 1930’s and 1940’s said “You can run but you can’t hide”. This is very true of pain, but it is more true of loss.

Endings provide us with many opportunities for change and growth. They teach us to overcome. They test our inner strength. They force us to look not only at the end, but the beginnings and the middles. If we only look at the end, we have pain, and loss, and sadness. We need to examine the entire relationship, the good the bad and the ugly. When we are able to do this examination, we get acceptance and we get closure. In the song by The Doors “When the Music’s Over” Jim Morrison writes “when the music’s over, turn out the light”. We may turn out the light, but we also get the whole song to sing again and again.

Change is possible.

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The fight, Part 2,- The Final Round

If you missed part 1 you can read it here

Announcer  “I’m here at ringside and in an unprecedented move, the fighters are returning to the ring.  Disease looks confused, but is never one to turn down a fight.  Mary, in a very nontraditional decision, has asked all of her handlers and doctors to go back to the dressing room.  They can only watch this fight.  No doctor or handler can step in. There is no referee. It’s only Mary vs. the Disease”

“The bell rings and the fight is on.  Family and friends look on as Mary’s condition has weakened.  She can hardly stand in the ring.  She is exhausted and wobbly.  The clock ticks by.  Each second seems like an hour.  In spite of her feeble state, Mary  keeps challenging Disease to hit her.  She chides Disease for being weak.  She challenges Disease to take his best shot.  Disease laughingly throws a few punches.  The weakened Mary goes to one knee on the first punch.  Mary gets up.  She challenges Disease to hit harder.  Disease obliges and Mary goes down again.  Mary gets up.  Barely able to stand, and barely able to speak, she gestures to Disease to hit  her again.  Disease, again, throws a punch which knocks down Mary.  Remember no referee, no handlers, no doctors at ringside, no one can stop this fight.  It’s a brave, last stand for this warrior who is clearly no match for a strong Disease.  Mary gets up again!!  Family and friends at ringside are teary.  They cannot do anything to stop this.  They are watching Mary fade away.  Minutes later, there are no more punches, there are no more gestures, there are no more comments.  The fight is over.”

Mary fought her last round. She was a gallant fighter who survived and lived against all the odds.  She managed to get knocked down, get up, fight and live. She continued to do this for many years.  However on July 10, 2013 she was no match against a strong disease.

All fighters who have fought their last round get memorialized with a 10 bell salute in order to remember their time in the ring.This one is for Mary:

10 bell salute

In the sport of boxing, we cheer for our favorite fighters in each of their fights.  We relish their victories, and root for their comebacks when they lose.  In real life, we do the same.  The major difference, however, is that when a person loses, there is no rematch, and the losses are more painful.   What this tells me is that we have to rely on the basic tenet of any type of recovery; we have today.

 

 

 

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