It’s tempting to think of our lives as a book.
Life has been anything but predictable since I left my hometown. Even before going to college, my life was chaotic, but I didn’t know that until years later. It’s amazing the mindset you have when you’re young, or rather, it’s amazing that you don’t have one at all. You’re experiencing so many things for the first time, and there’s no precedent for anything that you see. Your parents can tell you stories and offer explanations, but nothing can truly prepare you for an experience that you’ve never had before. It might take some time before you can actually explain it, or maybe even a few years. It’s often easier to analyze something after we have put some distance between ourselves and it.
I’m signed up for another year of living in South Boston, and yet, I have no doubt that this next year will be different than any other year I’ve experienced. I was never the type that liked to plan, but at this point, I’ve given up on having any semblance of an outline. I don’t know what’s going to come, and a life filled with uncertainty and abstractions has kept me on my toes. It’s the reason I think of myself as adaptable. My dad never told me anything like, “You have to roll with the punches,” and yet, I already knew how to do it. I’m grateful for that. I know that life is messy, and while it seems to have a rhythm at times, you can’t rely on that rhythm. To me, life has always been more bumpy than it’s been calm.
Part of what makes life bumpy is that people are always coming in and going out, and this can be painful to deal with. Sometimes, there is guilt. Did we do something wrong? Could we have done anything to make them stay? Now that my group of friends is in their thirties, people are leaving to chase their own pursuits and goals, things that are traditional like having a family and acquiring property, and things that are atypical, like moving to another state and embarking on another career path. There’s less of people sticking to their hometown, and more of the, “Let’s go out and see what else there is,” kind of mentality. I’ll be here for another year or two, but I don’t have that feeling of, “This is Boston, this is my home.” I’d rather keep all of my options open.
Friends will move away. The contact will become less frequent, and anyone who says that they’ll visit often, they’re just trying to soften the blow, or they don’t realize how difficult it will be to see friends on a regular basis. People are well-intentioned, but I know that the reality will be a little different, and I get it. There are so many days I’m tempted to go out, but instead, I end up doing things around my apartment, basking in the comfort of a welcoming place that I don’t actually need to leave. I can only imagine that rather than driving all the way to Boston, that people are more apt to find a local watering hole, and to hang out there. There’s no harm, no foul, as far as I’m concerned.
Maybe we shouldn’t think of people as leaving us, but rather, we should focus on the fact that the time spent together was wonderful, and you hope that each of you got something out of it, something you didn’t have before, and that you both took another step forward on the path of life. The best friends are the ones that influence us in some way to become better people, and we hope that we’ve had that effect as well.
A big move can signal the end of a chapter, but as I thought about this more, I realized that the stages we experience are more important than physical locations. Each stage deserves its own chapter, and they help to explain why we are the way that we are today. The big changes we go through, they all deserve their own section in the novel of your life. They deserve to be recognized with bold lettering, and maybe there are even blank pages signifying a true shift, a different section of your life that’s a complete departure from anything that’s come before it.
Some people will cross your path, and maybe they’ll only be a sentence in your book. Some will stay for a little bit longer, and maybe they’ll warrant a paragraph. The truly important people, the friends you’ve had all your life, they’ll appear in multiple chapters, if not all of them. These are the people that are truly special, the ones who play a significant part in your growth every step of the way. You want the best for them, and you know they want the same for you. There’s something to be said for watching the people that you love making positive decisions and trying to improve their lives.
Memories of time spent with friends can bring you joy, but this joy never lasts long. When you try to hold on to a memory, you’re holding on to something that is already gone. People will leave, and it’s time for you to forge this new life of yours, even if only a part of you is actually different. Not having your friend close by will be difficult at times, and you’ll reflect on the moments that you shared, but each new stage is a chance to continue your development, your forward progression, so don’t spend your time and energy wishing that you’re still living in a previous chapter.
It can be tempting to base our identity on who our friends are, but the real growth begins when we learn about ourselves, and forge an identity all our own. Keep taking the next step forward, and don’t be afraid of this new person you’re becoming. Fill every page with the things you learn. There will be plot twists aplenty. There may be challenging moments, but trust that each new chapter of your life will teach you something. There is joy to be had in abundance, so never get into the habit of believing that your best chapters have already been written. Thanks for reading.
One thought on “End of the Chapter”
There is much to reflect upon in your words, Adam. Without doubt, life is filled with uncertainty, abstractions and adaptation. I concur with your perspective of keeping options open. On a even more personal level, I am very familiar with “…basking in the comfort of a familiar place…” Yet I also embrace actions that shift us from our comfort zones into growth zones. Intentional actions. While not one to live in the past, I do choose to hold on to cherished memories as I see some of those experiences as significant facets of my life and growth. I like and acknowledge your underlying message here especially your statement, “… the real growth begins when we learn about ourselves…” This is genuinely meaningful. How cool that you ‘get” this. To your post’s title, I believe some of our best chapters are often the present ones, as well as some to come. Here’s to yours!
LikeLiked by 1 person