Without getting all misty-eyed about it, I’ve been thinking a little lately about the way things end. And about how others begin too, I must hasten to add. But mostly I’ve been thinking – with a degree of gratitude actually – about the times in-between.
Get to my age and you know that things will end. I’ve had careers that did that; in some cases with a spectacular explosion. I’ve had friendships that did so too, some of them with great subsequent soul-searching as I tried to work out how the hell we’d got to where we’d got. Multiply that by 1000 for my marriage.
But I also know that new things are born from those. I know this because I’m still here and aside from bouts of manic bipolarity, generally very optimistic about what’s still got to come. My life today has been solidly rebooted from a fairly dramatic system crash in 2010 and the march continues, but with a little added pace and an extra dash of collected wisdom. I know now that what seemed like the end wasn’t, and that in fact, was just the beginning of something potentially even better.
I know that. So do we all, really. And if you don’t know it by now, there will come a time when you will, I am both sorry and delighted for you, to say.
What’s consuming my thoughts lately however is the in-between times. When one thing ends, another does not just begin. You don’t go from a company failure, the collapse of a marriage, the loss of your driving-force idea or anything so spiritually eviscerating and just pick yourself up again.
There is fall-out to deal with and with that comes lost focus, misdirected energy, casual self-destruction thinly-disguised as ego-rebuilding, anger, sorrow, and the dramatic sharpening of the sardonic vein of your humour. Or at least you’ll have a version of that, in miniature or on a very broad scale, depending on the scope of the drama that engulfed you.
But today, firmly on the upswing once again, I know this for certain: the in-between times are the most important ones you’ll ever know.
During the up times, you may be too busy revelling in the momentum and doing what you can to juice it for you to pay much attention to anything else. We’re mostly very good at our own versions of ‘if-it-ain’t-broke’ when there are things to protect.
During the down times, you’re too busy fighting to care about where you ultimately land. You make decisions about what you’ll figuratively (and perhaps actually) die for, and what you’ll allow to slide as you constantly re-adjust.
But it’s during the in-between times that you reset the rules by which you will live during the next phase. And I believe it’s only because we do that, that we have a next phase at all. Because once you get to the point of saying ‘I’ll never allow that to happen again’, you’re mentally starting the jog back up the hill.
The in-between times are edifying. They’re concentrated periods of massively raised self-awareness. And though by definition they have to be preceded by something bad, as I race out of such a period now, I am reminded once again – as I have been before – why I am grateful to experience them.