The Beauty in Being Undone
Contradictory to popular thought, stories never truly end.
“And they lived happily ever after” doesn’t exist, no matter how the author penned it.
Tales end with split-second tableau vivants: the protagonist leaning in for a kiss, a few surviving soldiers surveying the field in weary triumph, the justice in a criminal behind bars.
But just as a reader’s eyes scan that last sentence, the story continues on.
Couples don’t end at the altar, battle scenes only hint at the trials of national rebirth and reconstruction to follow, and prison sentences don’t comfort wronged families for long.
And we instinctively know this.
Think of the shelves of spinoffs at the bookstore. John Gardner’s Grendel continued the Beowulf epic from the perspective of the monster. In Wild Sargasso Sea, Jean Rhys delivers a prequel to the classic Jane Eyre, filling readers in on the story behind the first Mrs. Rochester before she succumbed to madness. Even Shakespeare’s famous Hamlet continues on in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
“The end” only signifies a break in storytelling because nothing in this world resolves.
I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.
-Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz
As a writer, I’m never done.
I put down my pen to breathe for a moment – and get another cup of coffee – and then I pick it up again. Another press release, another story, another article.
Each attempt is a step closer to genius, whether I ever reach that subjective state or not. Each blank page a second chance to create something lasting and honest and real.
As a human, I’m never done.
Days end in flannel sheets, but the sun also rises. Another cup of coffee in the morning to make me manageable, another rattle under the hood of my ’90s car, another chance to put my foot in my mouth a few dozen times.
And just when it begins to feel old, a righted wrong reminds me that each day is an act of grace, a tangible chance to start afresh with the rising Eastern sun every morning. Our human concept of time is good for something.
As a race, we’re never done.
We watch the cycle play out in newspaper headlines, evening news after dinner, and viral YouTube videos. Another bloodthirsty rebel leader replaces a done-away-with tyrant, another child falls victim to Leukemia, another single mother prays for relief in the form of full bellies.
Nothing in this world resolves.
A static state is nothing short of unnatural. As creatives, we were never meant to publish one story and retire. As humans, we were never meant to live one day and spend the rest in bed. Together as the human race, we were never meant to fight one type of justice and cover our ears to the cries from the rest of the world.
We’re born fighters.
So don’t complain when another day begins again, and don’t whine when the world forgets your last post, your last book, your last good deed.
It’s a grace-saturated call to action.
Never stop creating, never stop living, never stop fighting.
We’re undone creatures for a reason.
What do you pursue day after day? What wears you down?