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If you’ve been a long-time subscriber in these parts, you’d know that books have guided the ship of my life with the ardour of a sincere helmsman, taking me through real life moments of success and euphoria, defeat and grief, desire and melancholy. But every book has an inevitable ending where the unspoken contract between reader and writer, no matter how refreshingly earnest, comes to its natural end. All that’s left are the echoes of what was hopefully an eventful journey.
Much like books, life is punctuated with a series of perceived endings that remind us of how transient every moment is, each instantaneously expiring through its very existence, for better or worse. With each recollection, the memory of that moment becomes hazier owing to the natural rate of physiological decay. A colour, a smell, the idiosyncrasies and habits of people and cultures around us — soon it will all cease to have any presence or meaning within the realms of our conscious perception. As we confront each concluding life phase, when we turn that last page of a chapter and look forward to the next, we are, for a brief second, reminded that life is a relatively short dance against the background of eternity.
It soon becomes vividly clear that the experiences we come to think of as everlasting, enduring or seemingly permanent - the unbreakable vows, the sacred promises, the unshakable bonds that offer false shelter from our ephemerality- weren’t beginnings or endings of anything, but illusory constructs. Through the inevitable and yet unbearably painful realisation that all corporeal attachments are transient, we become compelled to admit that history will continue without us. We are each temporary custodians of a life force granted to us at birth that we eventually relinquish.
The best we can do is to inhabit time differently - to exist with and not against the continuity of time. To end our fixation with moments. Because continuity, my dear readers, is indifferent to time or its punishing qualities. Continuity is the core of being - it is all heart and soul - without the anticipation or expectation of a start or an end, without the grief and despair of lost potential.
In a world of seamless continuity, there is no need to avoid pain and suffering or sidestep feelings of sentimentality and self-pity. When faced with challenge or hardship, life often seems capricious, unbridled and inscrutable. But perhaps it only feels that way when we discriminately decide when to live, when we meticulously divide and fragment life into a series of episodes, waging an internal war against the immutable progression of time.
Endings are thus simply invitations to think about time and to travel with it, grounding us more fully in our chance-granted temporality. Nothing more and nothing less.