What follows is a long — and yet far from exhaustive — list of things, both good and bad, that come to an end.
• Good books come to an end. Once we realize we're reading a good book, we do one of two things: We speed up and read it all in one day or we slow down and drag it out over a few weeks. But either way, every good book we start that's too good to put down comes to an end.
• Bad movies come to an end. Usually, they have a bad beginning and a bad middle, but it's always a happy ending, simply because they're over and you can get on with your life.
• Good relationships come to an end. Unfortunately, even the greatest love stories have their "'til death do us part" moments. We only get the thrill of being a part of this world for so long, and so our relationships — both romantic and non-romantic — are ending every single day.
• Bad relationships come to an end. In the form of break-ups and eye-openings and escapes, bad relationships are coming to an end every single day.
• Good times come to an end. Whether it's a night on the town filled with karaoke, a few beers and some good friends or it's a two-week vacation to get away from it all, good times do eventually come to an end.
• Bad times come to an end. Sometimes when we're in the midst of a storm, we're more certain than we've ever been about anything that the storm simply won't pass. But we also know that, in nature and in life, bad times come to an end, too.
The old saying tells us that "all good things come to an end." But I've been around for about 31-and-a-half years now, and I'm finally starting to realize that it's not just the good things that come to an end.
Eventually, we all come to the realization — whether we want to admit it or not — that all things are coming to an end. And while that is often bad news in our lives, there are also a lot of times that it proves to be a very good thing, too.
The fact that some of those relationships mentioned above come to an end really does prove to be a good thing for us, and sometimes, we realize that we just thought those relationships were good for us, even though they never were.
Other relationships, we knew all along that their end would be bad for us — the death of a beloved relative or watching a loved one slip into dementia or Alzheimer's might fit this category.
But all things — good and bad — will come to an end. And I really think that, for the most part, that's good news.
And the reason I think that is because the things we seem to spend a lot of our time thinking about are the bad things.
So, while I'm not here to say that good things coming to an end is a good thing, I am here to say that I think bad things coming to an end is a good thing, and all these bad things that we're spending so much of our time thinking about will come to an end!
Maybe, just maybe, if you're anything like me, that's exactly what you needed to be reminded of today.
Perhaps it's because we're in the middle of the harshest winter that I can remember in my time here on God's green (and white) earth (though the past few days have been a spring-like reprieve).
Or perhaps it's just because there are seasons in our lives. But whatever the reason is, I know I'm not the only one who finds myself asking the question — more often than I'd like to — "Is this ever going to end?"
Maybe it's grief that makes you ask the question. Maybe it's depression that's making you ask it.
Maybe it's a bad decision you made. Or maybe it's a bad decision that someone else made that's put you in what feels like your own personal hell.
No matter what the reason, it's important to know two things: First, you're not the only one asking if this is ever going to end; and second, it's not going to last forever, because all things — good and bad — do come to an end. And in those two things, I believe, is the key to making it through those crummy times.
The first fact, that you're not the only one asking the question, gives us a sense of a communal existence.
Let's take our winter weather example, for instance. There are people, believe it or not, who love the weather that we're having.
I used to be roommates with one such guy. We all thought he was smoking something, but he loved it when it snowed and loved it even more when it snowed so much that it made it humanly impossible to do anything — much like I feel this winter has been.
So, whether you find yourself on the lovin' it side of this weather dilemma or with the rest of us on the normal side, you're not in it alone.
If you were the only one who hated this weather, it'd be kind-of depressing. But you're not! There are tons of us who hate this brushing off our cars and shoveling our sidewalks stuff. So, you're not alone! And that's huge.
But, it's also not going to last forever, and that's important, too, because that brings us another thing that we need to accompany the sense of community, and that thing is hope.
Hope is a common word, and we know it well, whether we know it or not. We use it all the time: "I hope I meet my true love; I hope my team wins; I hope this snow stops!" But... we would probably all agree that hope goes a little deeper than that, too.
Ultimately, I think we all hope that hope is more outside of us than that, and in that abstract understanding is where it can bring us together.
Lots of people who also call themselves fans of your team probably hope that the team wins, just like you do. So, in a sense, hope can bring us to a sense of community.
On the other hand, a majority of people probably don't walk around hoping that you "find someone who makes you happy."
But if you're part of a community with someone, they might just hope that, for your sake, you do find that person.
So, in another sense, being a part of a community can bring a
sense of hope.
So, to recap, hope can breed a sense of community, and a sense of community can breed hope. That's a dangerously good combination — and one that can help us through the winters in our lives!
Now comes the important part, though! We have to apply it. So, let's try to to use this combination to remember that all bad things — including this crummy weather — will indeed come to an end.
Stay warm, Punxsutawney.
Zak Lantz is the editor of The Spirit.