• Vincent Sell

Beginnings & Endings


In order to embark on a new phase in our life we must fully extricate ourselves from the one prior. That transition, however, from one phase to another, is not always a clean break; phases dovetail into one another, making it unclear where one phase ends and another begins. This is the preferred way, for it allows one phase to be up and running before another departs. This is not always possible, though; sometimes everything must come to a cold stop and all the momentum, that is usually carried over from one phase to another, must be generated anew.

But nothing comes out of nothing. Everything must have its antecedents. It goes back to the age old question: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Putting a new spin on that question, I might ask: Which came first, the teacher or the apprentice? To get the ball rolling, somehow a gift must be generated and, somehow, a feeling of indebtedness must precede that. There is only one thing that propels us forward: the gratitude we have for the past. If we are trapped in feelings of being wronged, disadvantaged, left out, and hindered, then we will perpetuate that wrong; that lack, into our future. Conversely, if we acknowledge all the gifts we’ve received, all the guidance, even if it wasn’t accompanied by a physical presence, we may get to the point where we can pay that forward, and do so in a less diffuse manner.

Those we owe the greatest debt of gratitude will always be the ones who touched us in the most concentrated way. It is a lament to have to make one’s gifts too diffuse, for lack of a direct heir. It is also a delight. Similarly, it is a lament to have to gather from too many disparate sources the gifts we receive. It is also a challenge.