Begin at the End
Updated: Nov 1, 2020
by Louisa Stringer
This year I gave my dad a watch (with a dial) for Father's Day. I gave it to him for a couple of reasons, but when he thanked me for it he said something very profound. He said, "isn't it wonderful to wear a watch with a dial to be able to see where we have been?"
We all like to look back on our life and our experiences. Most of the time we realize how fast the time goes. But my hope would be for all of us, that we look back with fondness as our good memories have potential to outweigh the bad. Maybe this is a gift we give ourselves to help push forward.
But we also love to live with this subconscious undertow of "the end", reminded by what Abe Lincoln penned "and in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years." We all want to look back on our lives and feel like we lived it well. But more often than not we are easily trapped in an if=then mentality, blinding ourselves to the reality of the present. "If I get this promotion, then we can take a vacation." "If I just get a new car, then I will be happy." "If I put in one more year, then I can retire." You get the gist. This requires us to think too far ahead instead of living in moments of today.
What if we could have a healthy outlook on how we want our lives to look when we get to the end while living each day as a new beginning, all the while not with an overshadowing longing of the past? What would happen if we took that outlook as an appreciation for today?
But truthfully, what if it just comes down to this...
Where you end up in life has little to do with what you've accomplished and everything to do with whom you've loved. – Craig Barnes
Beginning at the end is that craving of contentment we want to feel in moments, in days. Looking back on our lives has the ability to bring us to present grateful feelings. Focusing on the daily joys that provide this presence and peace in our heart and mind. Beginning each day this way, knowing it has absolutely nothing to do with what we have managed to do with our lives, but rather who has been a part of it with us. Because then, when we look back, there will be the people not the things we accomplished.
As I continue to work with family caregivers I notice how vitally important all of this is. I am inspired by the human connection that provides the joy and strength needed to begin each new day. While most of us who have become family caregivers had no idea it was on our radar for the future, we have all quietly adopted what a Chihuahuan tribe in Mexico embraces as their motto; "Nothing works out according to plan, but it always works out."
We need each other to gaze at that dial watch together and begin each new moment with hope. This hope provides the joy that we can look back and see who has been, not what has been done, and know our life has been worth every moment.
Nobody knows how the story ends Live the day, doing what you can This is only where it began Nobody knows how the story ends . – The Lumineers
Louisa Wiebe Stringer
Under the umbrella of Cape Wellness Collaborative, Wellness Cares is about supporting the caregiver. This program is led by Louisa Stringer, a Certified Caregiver Consultant™ who is a practitioner, advocate and trained in mental health first aid.
During the COVID-19 crisis, Louisa is offering individual and group support for caregivers by phone or virtual meeting. Effective April 1st, Louisa is also hosting a recurring cancer patient and caregiver encouragement group every Wednesday at 10 AM via Zoom.
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