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How often do your endings revolve around beginnings?


Today is August 9 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do your endings revolve around beginnings?” An inevitable part of traveling our life’s path is the frequency of endings and the potentiality of beginnings. The ending of relationships allows new bonds to form, the closure of one employment position invites a new job, and the death of a loved one allows life to be viewed in a new lens. Those who navigate the chaos come to realize how endings revolve around beginnings.


Those who put in the daily grind required to translate their dreams into reality appreciate author Anne Lamott’s observation: “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.” Endings are the dark periods in our lives while beginnings represent hope. The key is to realize the cycle of life while navigating the chaos often includes holding on to the power of hope and beginnings during dark periods, or endings.


In The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, Fred Rogers echoed a similar thought to Lamott and wrote “Often when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else. I've felt that many times. My hope for all of us is that ‘the miles we go before we sleep’ will be filled with all the feelings that come from deep caring - delight, sadness, joy, wisdom - and that in all the endings of our life, we will be able to see the new beginnings.”


American playwright, actor, author, screenwriter, and director Sam Shepard understood the value of creating an authentic ending revolving towards another beginning. His body of work spanned over half a century. He won ten Obie Awards for writing and directing, the most won by any writer or director. Shepard wrote 58 plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in the 1983 film The Right Stuff. He received the PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York magazine described Shepard as "the greatest American playwright of his generation."


Shepard's plays are chiefly known for their bleak, poetic, often surrealist elements, black humor, and rootless characters living on the outskirts of American society. His style evolved over the years, from the absurdism of his early Off-Off-Broadway work to the realism of Buried Child and Curse of the Starving Class (both 1978). As Dwight Garner noted in a New York Times December 6, 2017, article “Shepard composed his last novel Spy of the First Person while battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, even sometimes dictating passages to family and friends. This novel’s themes are echt Shepard: fathers and sons; shifting identities and competing versions of reality; a sense that there are watchers and there are watchees in this world of dusty gravitas.”


On endings and beginnings Shepard wrote “I hate endings. Just detest them. Beginnings are definitely the most exciting, middles are perplexing, and endings are a disaster. The temptation towards resolution, towards wrapping up the package, seems to me a terrible trap. Why not be more honest with the moment? The most authentic endings are the ones which are already revolving towards another beginning. That’s genius.”


Major League Baseball Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda navigated the chaos and learned firsthand how endings revolve around beginnings in his transition from player to manager. The Norristown, Pennsylvania native joined the Dodgers’ coaching staff in 1966 as the manager of the Pocatello Chiefs in the rookie leagues after his brief pitching career ended almost as soon as it started. He continued to coach in the minor leagues until 1973 - a run that was highlighted by three Pioneer League titles from 1966-68 with the Ogden Dodgers and a championship with the AAA Albuquerque Dukes in 1972. Lasorda parlayed his minor league coaching success into an opportunity to serve as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ third-base coach on Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston’s staff. Although Lasorda received opportunities to manage elsewhere, he served as third-base coach for the Dodgers for the better part of four seasons, before taking over the managerial duties when Alston retired on September 29, 1976. During his remarkable career he compiled a 1,599–1,439 record as Dodgers manager, won two World Series championships in (1981 and 1988), four National League pennants, and eight division titles in his 20-year career as the Dodgers manager. If Lasorda had been a better player, if he decided to manager elsewhere, or if he failed to realize that the end of his playing career was the beginning of his coaching career, he would have traveled a completely different path in life.

  • How often do you recognize that an ending revolves around a beginning?

  • How often do you remind yourself hope begins in the dark?

  • How often do you remind yourself not to give up?

  • When you are the end of something, how often do you ask yourself if you are really at the beginning of something else?

  • How often do you work on creating authentic endings where you are already revolving towards another beginning?