The huge cake sits forlorn on a conference room table.
The few faithful gather near as the room’s negative space grows heavy with expectation. The clock ticks. Phones are pulled from pockets and digital numbers document reality. The farewell party started ten minutes ago. No one speaks.
Until, “At least the weather is good for your last day!”
Nods all around from the fistful of suits.
A cascade of invitations has preceded this gathering. Another shoots now from the latest in hand held tech! The departing sycophant’s protector in action. Purchased loyalty repaid.
The cheap decorations call out to no one, clinging to the walls, embarrassed by their own vulgarity.
Contemporary culture would have us believe that all endings are bad – that a perfect world is one where no one dies, no one ends a relationship, and no club or institution ever closes its doors.
This fantasy places our intentions in the wrong place. Instead of investing in the quality of our own lives, our relationships, and our institutions, we shoot for something far less important – longevity.
Tragic deaths are not the ones that leave grieving friends and family to ponder the rich full life of the deceased. Tragic deaths are the ones of individuals who never had a chance to touch their individual greatness.
Relationships that build up the dignity and joy of the individuals involved do not suddenly become failures when the couple grows in different directions. If both members of the couple have invested in honesty and integrity, their six month relationship may serve its purpose – preparing each for an even better (maybe even longer) relationship with someone else or perhaps living a happy single life.
Clubs and institutions may need to close their doors to allow the energy they have created to be released into the world where it can be transformed into something even better.
Focusing our intentions on quality requires more emotional risk, more introspection, and more creative thought than the mindless trudge towards uninspired longevity.
Quality requires all of that effort for sure, but the returns are high. Focusing our expectations on excellence rather than survival creates lives we actually want to live, relationships we will miss when they are gone, and institutions that are relevant to those that they serve.