I recently read The Last Lecture. This amazing story is about a man facing imminent death and choosing to cherish each day instead of throwing a pity party. It made me think of big and small endings.
During the initial days of my long walk through Spain, doubt made several appearances in my mind. First, could I actually walk all 500 miles? Second, would it be an enjoyable experience? At the start in St. Jean the end was not even a random thought. On the fifth day I had an epiphany and realized my arrival in Santiago would be a dramatic termination of a long journey. I pictured a Forrest Gump moment when the feet stopped stepping. No more days of enjoying nature. No more days of meeting new and interesting people from all corners of the world. How would I cope with the change?
I spent the last two weeks in Sun Valley, Idaho riding my bike and finishing the book. Creating A Million Steps consumed my life for the past ten months. The reflective nature of writing allowed me to relive and digest each precious moment of the experience. I typed until my fingertips hurt. I carried a notepad to record random thoughts that sprouted while driving, exercising, and socializing. I dreamed of the perfect sentence and woke up sweating over periods and commas. My vulnerability flew off the charts as my work was judged daily by my wonderful editor and the many friends that read the work in progress manuscript. The writing is over. How will I cope with the change?
Our journey through life is a never ending sea of change-some gargantuan and many minor. When we initiate change, like moving to a new house, the experience is usually perceived as exciting. When change is forced upon us, like a crummy boss spewing useless tasks, our resistance flares and tension rises. The acceptance of change is the difference between a pity party and growth. One of my main goals after the walk is to align myself with what is likely to occur instead of wasting time and energy to control the situation. It is much easier to cope and adapt when our outlook on change is positive.
Alexander Graham Bell said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”
Walking into the Pilgrim’s office to obtain my Compostela (certificate of completion) felt like an ending but is was really just the beginning. It allowed me to spend the next ten months writing my first book. Finishing the book felt like losing a dear friend. I have a feeling that the next chapter will be loaded with many new adventures and experiences. It may be a big lesson in humility by selling six copies to my mom and brother or may take me to Oprah’s couch. Either way, I look forward to embracing the change.
The end occurs when we cease to live….