A shadow edge is never on the edge.
The time to contemplate the ending is before the ending.
Five days left to this year. There will be an ending. And there will be a new beginning. That is Tao.
If you look at a vase by a window and examine what makes it appear round, you will see a shadow on it. That is the shadow edge. It is the darkest shadow on that face. It is never on the edge : The main light source strikes the vase on one side, and reflected light comes from the other.
In the same way that the shadow edge, which establishes the roundness of an object to our eyes, is never at the edge, so too should we consider limits and endings before we reach them. We cannot do without limits and endings. They bring definition to our endeavors. But if we are to use them to our advantage, we have to plan how to meet them. For those who follow Tao, those who can accommodate endings gracefully are among the most admired.
In the past, emperors, scholars, holy people, or others who were fully in touch with themselves could know the moment of their deaths. While they were still vital, they wrote farewell poems. Such people knew how to consider endings before they reached them. Therefore, there were no regrets or lingering ramifications once they passed. The purity of the next cycle was ensured.
Stand before it and there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
Stay with the ancient Tao, move with the present.
– Tao Te Ching, 14
People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.
– Tao Te Ching, 64
“Your journey never ends. Life has a way of changing things in incredible ways.” — Alexander Volkov
“We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started… and know the place for the first time.” — T.S. Eliot
The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning. ~Ivy Baker Priest
Ends and beginnings – there are no such things.
There are only middles.
~Robert Frost, Mountain Interval, “In the Home Stretch”
I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. ~Gilda Radner
The end of the year in the northern hemisphere is all about shadows – the shadows beginning to shortenen again as the sun starts to climb once again into the sky. We know the days are short and cool, but will soon get longer and warmer. We use the New Year as a time of beginning, starting new things, but really, we rarely think much about the ending of the old year, other than to have a party.
Perhaps, instead of thinknig of resolutions for the New Year, we ought to think about what we would like to end with the old year. What can we toss out, get rid of, to make space in our lives for new things? What can we leave behind without sadness or regret?
For me, I leave behind my year of Tao postings based on 365 Tao. It’s been great having a daily source of inspiration, and I’m amazed I’ve actually done it for a whole year. For the next cycle, I’m learning about art journaling, planning to experiment with a watercolor art journal that I hope to post here daily. I have a new digital camera, a new set of watercolors, and just need to pick out a journal or journaling form. I’ve thought about doing watercolor post cards, and then making them available to mail to whoever would like them. It will be interesting to see what form this journaling actually takes.
Thanks for sharing this part of my journey. It is not ending, but it is changing form a bit. Thanks for reading, your comments, and your ispirations, those of you with your own blogs. I love reading other people’s thoughts and ideas, as you can tell from my own extensive blogroll.
New calendars are up, Chinese brush painting calendars! I’ll pull out my Chinese art brushes finally, my watercolors, and get myself to paint as often as I can. Should be fun.