Fall is winding down on our farm. Brown grass is hidden beneath piles of colorful leaves that have fallen. Wheat drilled last month has popped up providing a spiky looking cover to fields for the winter. Corn and soybeans have been harvested and shipped off to the elevator. By the time you read this, we may even have had a dusting of snow.
But — a single field of double-crop milo remains uncut. It could take weeks before it is dry enough to harvest. This one field has caused a disproportionate amount of anxiety. Even though all the other work is done, harvest season cannot be complete without it. Equipment can’t be winterized, paperwork can’t be finalized, and the weight of unfinished work sits heavy in our house.
It seems like so much of this year has been spent in a similar state. Waiting anxiously to see what will happen with COVID-19 when we just want to get back to “normal” life. Counting down the days until the election and the merciful end of campaign ads. Watching our fellow humans so frustrated by inequality that violence erupts in the streets and wondering helplessly how to make it stop.
All this seems to have led to many of us feeling “over it”, where anxiety and frustration create a mental fatigue and you just don’t care anymore how it turn out as long as it is over.
The problem with this apathy is that it can cause you to forget to stop and appreciate the value of an ending.
Endings can be satisfying. Like the feeling that comes from indulging in large gulps for air after you sprinted across the finish line, the satisfying swish and thud of the hard cover closing when you have finished a good book, or making a joyful “Victory March” across the stage to receive your diploma.
Endings can also be disappointing. The feeling of defeat that comes from losing a playoff game to end your high school athletic career. The regret of a missed opportunity. Getting the devastating news of a friend or loved one’s life being unexpectedly cut short.
To truly value endings, you must recognize that our final ending is that of life. All the other endings are leading to that one and it will probably come sooner than most of us would like.
So, when I find myself feeling apathetic or anxiously waiting for an ending, I try to stop and appreciate the moment: imagining an end and pondering how it can bring me joy or teach me an important lesson. I reflect on how past satisfactions or disappointments made me who I am and motivate me through the promise or threat of how things will end.
Each ending fills our life with experience and opens a space for another beginning.
Next week the 2020 campaign season will come to an end. There will be winners and losers. In the future, COVID outbreaks will be controlled and the world should go back to some kind of normal. Racial inequalities can even be overcome. And harvest on our farm will eventually be finished.
For now, I am going to appreciate the lessons of this crazy year and dream of all the wonderful endings in my future.