The beginning of summer is sneaking up, and lately, I’ve been thinking about powerful endings. All of you have likely experienced the acute impression that a significant ending can stamp on our memory: graduation and the inevitable dispersing of longtime friends, returning for the first time to an empty nest after shipping off the last child to reach adulthood, even moving away from home for the first time to take the plunge on a seasonal job across the country.
Many of you will be experiencing a profound ending in a few months as your summer winds down, the season ends, you and your friends scatter, and what will hopefully have been a summer that you’ll remember for the rest of your life will come to a close. If you are open to the new friendships, experiences, and memories that will offer themselves up, then the months ahead will be like a Great Hall in your memory, a place filled with laughter, escapades, and meaningful connections. When that Hall clears out, the silence fills the space, and maybe the first snows start to fall on your summer playground as it welcomes the long quiet months ahead and a much needed respite from the crowds and bustle of summer, you’ll feel deeply the void left by the season’s conclusion.
So why am I bringing this up now, and being a downer with my reflections on loss and endings? Because the greatest measure of how fully one has embraced an experience, a relationship, and the seasons of their lives is the breadth of the gap left by their endings. If you feel a bittersweet absence at the end of the season ahead, then there’s a good chance that you loved something about it, that you were open to embracing the opportunities and the people that fate put forward.
So as you get comfortable in your homes for this summer, I encourage you all to be open, eager and maybe even push yourself a bit outside your newly established comfort zone. Take that hike after work even if you’re tired. Even though your crew is forming, saddle up next to the new person at lunch and become their very first friend. Go backpacking for the first time even if you don’t have every possible gadget and piece of gear you think you might need. Find the people in your community who know how to do the stuff you are interested in learning and ask if you can tag along.
Build a Great Hall, fill it with joy, friends, and experiences, and craft this season of your life to be one that you poured your heart into, one that you’re later reluctant to part with. After all, you’ll only get one Summer of 2019.
“Our story may have any number of endings but its start is a singular choice we make today.”
– Faisal Khosa
“When strangers ask me how I came to work in Death Valley, I lie.
I’m not ashamed of the truth; I just know that it’s not what a family of bright-eyed tourists wants to hear over breakfast. Like a lot of parkies, my pilgrimage to the middle of nowhere wasn’t inspired by memories of a particularly pleasant family camping trip or a dog-eared copy of an Edward Abbey book. Here’s what really happened…”