THE BLOG
12/17/2012 01:08 pm ET Updated Feb 16, 2013

The 'End' Is Never Really That

Let's have a closer look at the phrase "the 11th hour," characterized by the pressure to fit something in, and used to describe the beginning of the end. What are we to get from that? Once again, I feel it is useful to reflect on the moment from the perspective of those wise people who inhabited North America well before the first Europeans brought their clocks.

Indeed, as we think about the American Indian Dakota Sioux name "twelfth moon," we are struck by a revealing irony. The twelfth moon is actually not always the last one of the year -- there can be a 13th! So, what were they trying to say?

The truth is, the "end" is all relative. It's important not to get caught up in an artificial frenzy. Instead, it is more skillful to focus on what we are actually experiencing, and watch the ball as it rolls around. This is what the natives did when they watched the heavenly bodies and felt the earth as it moved under the feet. The anticipation must have been exhilarating. In contrast, we worry and find it as yet another source of anxiety. I cannot help but see the connection to last week -- the infamous 12-12-12 -- and the widespread prophecies connected to it. What is your take on that? Let me share something my daughter recently revealed about the end.

To preface, let me also remind you that it is often through the lens of children that we can see ourselves and often our misconstruction of life and its "rules." Indeed, as you read on you might get a glimpse of how we each, through our own life experience, can fall into that trap. I'm happy to report that my daughter avoided it this time. But we all have a lot of learning to do.

My daughter recently wrote an essay about how she felt when our former nanny, who was a lovely person and a helpful caregiver, moved away. With the culmination of different changes and shifts in my daughter's life due to myself and her mother getting a divorce, her nanny was an important pillar of what was constant in her life. In the essay, my daughter wrote in describing the discovery of this news, "I believed it was the end." Wise beyond her years, she then explains how she eventually realized it wasn't "the end," but rather the beginning of a new kind of relationship with her nanny. To this day, they are still close and still have a strong relationship with each other, but it is just a different relationship than what she had when she saw her every day of her life. She learned that rather than their relationship ending, it just shifted. They remained connected at heart and began communicating in a different way. The anticipation of what she considered the end was really a lot more stressful and final than what actually happened, because quite frankly, there is never an end, even in things like death that we perceive as the most definitive of all ends.

From what we know of ancient cultures, we can deduce that they much more readily appreciated and respected this sentiment. It exemplifies an ongoing beginning rather than a finite end. If we focus on this model, we will find much more satisfaction in beginning something new or changing what once was. We live in a culture that exaggerates this phenomenon for effect, to scare people into acting immediately, without hesitation and perhaps thinking that it is now or never. It's crucial for us to come back to a more modest appreciation for reality, in order to reverse some of the pressure and unrealistic focus on what has been embellished around the truth.

I'll ask you tonight to think of a time in your life when you thought it was the end, and then follow the thought to the new circumstance that occurred after that. Recall the door that opened only when enough room was made when another one closed, and rest assured that it was no coincidence. After all, even when an old, heavy redwood tree falls terminally to the ground, its seeds are already on their way to producing another life. And now, as we look to the year 2013, we can discuss the importance of realizing that the wrapping-up of year 2012 is merely prepping us for what's to come.

For more by Dr. Michael Finkelstein, click here.

For more on wisdom, click here.

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