The vibration through the thin branch of the birch tree would be imperceptible to most living things as this creature makes a vital transition from one stage of life to another, only to move to yet another vital stage. The end of one stage becomes the beginning of the next, only to become the end and beginning of another, and another, and on it goes from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly. For eons this cycle has continued unabated and, unless we really screw things up from here, will likely continued for eons more.
Cycles occur everywhere and in everything. Even when the cycle is almost imperceptible, like what occurs inside the cocoon as earthbound creature inherits the ability to move heavenward, the end is always in the process of becoming the beginning of something else and vice versa. This is the very definition of a cycle and, although the specific processes will vary whether we’re talking about the life cycle of a living thing, a product, an enterprise, a residential neighborhood or a human being, one thing we can always be sure of is that the beginning will eventually come to an end and the end will be intimately connected to some other beginning. Or, as my mother always says when things aren’t going so well, “this too shall pass”.
I might be dating myself a bit with this reference but I’ll take my chances. The 1989 song Closing Time by the band Semisonic speaks to this Universal process it quite appropriately with the line, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”. Of course, it should be noted that the song is talking about the bar closing and the band members hoping “you have found a friend” to take you home, but they had the foresight to throw in a couple of Zen-ish lines that speak to the cycles of life. Every new beginning certainly does come from some other beginning’s end.
Being a martial arts instructor as well as a business owner I find this concept to be one of the most helpful whenever I catch myself getting mired in the minutiae of a particular task, challenge or problem that, at first glance, appears to have no simple solution or clear path. Remembering that all things are, in that moment, at some point in a greater cycle allows me to step back and take in the whole picture. In fact, it has become part of my daily process to take some time, usually during a morning or evening meditation, and simply try to be grateful for whatever or wherever in a “cycle” I may find myself, knowing full well that wherever I am in the cycle, wherever my business is in the cycle, wherever a particular Aikido student is in the cycle, is all part of a greater whole that deserves recognition. That recognition lends itself to having a more complete perspective on the myriad issues we all face daily.
All of life is process, a cycle of becoming. The only constant in the Universe is change. This is the one thing that we can all truly count on. Nothing ever stays the same and every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Nothing stays the same for a day, an hour or even a second. Each moment is a continuous spiral leading us from one beginning’s end to yet another ending in the process of becoming a beginning. Night spirals into day spirals into night spirals into yet another day. We are born and eventually we die. Birth, growth, decay, death and rebirth…the cycle of life. We could say that “life is change” or we could say it another way that “change is life”. Change is life and the ability to change is the essential element of growth, as one of my Aikido mentors is famous for saying. He was also famous for the follow up to that saying, “…the acceptance of this truth, that nothing stays the same, is the source of the power of true creativity”.
If I were to issue a challenge to anyone reading this it would be in the form of a statement: If you want to have a greater understanding of life, love, business, or anything else of interest to you, study the movement of the Universe. Study the principles and forces that govern it, the flow and function of nature’s energy and the movement of the galaxies. In this study you will find a greater connection, and thus understanding, between all things. The cycles that govern the movement of “no form” into the realm of form, the ebb and flow of the earths large water bodies, the movement of the earth around the sun, the changing of the seasons, the spiral helix in the structure of amino acids and, of course, the movement of egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis to butterfly, are the same cycles that exist in our own lives as we move from birth to and through whatever stage we may be in at this very moment. One thing is for sure, whether we like it or not, this stage too shall pass.
Steve Jobs gave the 2005 commencement address at Stanford University and the last few (now prophetic and sadly ironic) paragraphs stuck in my memory for their face slapping honesty. He spoke of the cycles of life and death by saying, “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away… Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish!” (Emphasis mine)
So for now its closing time, but remember that every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…