The Principle of Better Endings

Symbol, Star, Sun, Emblem, Indicator

I have been posting to this blog site of Better Endings, in various editions, for well over seven years. In the process of developing ideas for the blog, I have come to understand how “Better Endings” is more than a literary device. It is a principle, a creative faculty, inherent to each of us as human beings because of our capacities for imagination and rational thought. We are capable, through language and memory, to reflect on our past, to mindfully experience our current thoughts and actions, and to anticipate and plan for our future. 

Level, Tool, Equipment, Repair

We are never ‘stuck’ in the present moment—or bubble—of time. The philosophical admonition that we live ‘only in the present moment’ means different things to different people, but I find for myself it is not really about the Present tense or about time (or spacetime), at all.  To be grounded in the Now can mean simply focussing your attention fully on what you are experiencing. If I travel to a past event through memory or imagination, I am Here-Now. If I recall a dream to explore its meaning, I imagine myself back in that experience to ‘replay’ it, and I am Here-Now. If I consider my future potentials to choose my best path forward, as I ‘preview’ a future potential, I am Here-Now. And if I reflect on a full process of how some event or attitude or situation has emerged, unfolded, and resolved (or its forward potentials), viewing that entire process as a single extended Moment is also being Here-Now.

The Principle of Better Endings allows you to regard and conduct your life as a transformational process of Becoming: where have you been, where are you currently, then where are you headed in relation to where/how you would most desire to Be?  To develop the talent of future prospection—like mining for gold!—it is helpful to reflect on past events and situations to ferret out what has worked and what could use some tweaking for going forward in a direction most in keeping with your current goals or with your sense of mission and purpose.  The principle of Better Endings lets you choose how you will respond in a current condition so you can ‘aim’ to achieve a ‘better’ future condition for yourself and all concerned.

Girl, Woman, Boat, Row, Rowboat, River

If we think of ourselves as locked within some bubble of the Present (like in a level-balancing tool), then we might think of our lives as like floating on a raft being tossed about on the open seas of chance or circumstance. Hang on!  We might say, “I don’t make plans; I like to let things happen and Go with the Flow, wherever Life takes me.” (If you have set the flow in motion in a particular, desirable direction, then yes by all means!) I get the dynamic randomity of that and the sense of surfing on the waves of life experience to develop resourcefulness and spontaneity in the journey or process of living, day by day. “The journey is more important than the destination,” someone framed in this perspective might propound. I totally agree with that idea!  Still, how we engage in the Journey is part and parcel of living a fruitful, dynamic life.  “Following Your Heart” to “Find/Live Your Bliss” requires more from you than ‘just getting by’ or waiting to see what will happen next.

Here’s the deal, from the perspective of the principle or faculty of Better Endings as I have come to understand it from practicing the art of ‘better-endering’ through the last several years:

If we regard ourselves as bobbing along through life in a Present spacetime-bubble, there is no reason for the future to be any more than a further unfoldment and extension of habits, conditions, and circumstances we have accrued along the way. We may become trapped in this Present bubble of time.

When I began the journey of conducting research that ultimately led to my book providing Life Mapping tools, Your Life Path (2018), I was inspired by a dream.  One morning as I woke from sleep, I saw a white placard with bold black letters pasted right between my eyes, that stated:

YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE
TO REALIZE YOUR DREAM,
NOT JUST FOR GETTING BY.

What a wake-up call!  This dream vision led me on a quest to discover for myself what is my Dream and how can I realize It. This led to my research on life mapping as I piloted every step of that emerging process before sharing it with others. After teaching from that process for several years in a humanities course about Myth, Reason, and Your Life Story (co-taught with an historian of mythology), my book and more importantly the workbook for Your Life Path (2018; you can download the workbook for free from the right panel), this process has now led further for me to a new book manuscript (now with my agent) of the title, Better Endings!

Dreams Not Your Life, Live Your Dream
images are from pixabay.com

In the last three and a half years I have moved three times, following my own heart to realize aspects of my Dream. This shows how flexibility is an important component of applying the principle of Better Endings. There are no limits to this principle, of course. As we apply it to situations and choices in our lives, engaging with this principle of Better Endings helps us realize the manifold potentials of the Present Moment.

The future is not fixed or necessarily determined by past choices or conditions.

You are free to exercise your faculty to reflect on the past, to review current conditions, and to choose your direction forward, to Realize Your Dream!

Of Molehills becoming Mountains then Molehills Again

Animal, Mole, Garden, Meadow, Molehill

Last time I wrote about the importance of having an objective view of my own attitudes and behavior, relying on inner guidance to help gain such a viewpoint. This past two weeks I have experienced a good example.  I aim to be mindful, balanced, wise and strong.  Yet in my human states of consciousness, I remain riddled with frailty and blind spots.

I have a tendency to overreact to or to dramatize the glitches that invariably come along to spice up daily living. This week that lesson was remarkably in view!  It started with a minor mishap involving my dear cat Emily, then it expanded and bloomed into two trips to Urgent Care, threatening letters from the department of health, my fearful reaction, and then a positive resolution.

The molehill:

My dear Emily loves to curl up under the covers for warmth and security. Usually she does this just for a brief time, but on one night two weeks ago, she fell asleep there as I was also sleeping.  Early morning, My dog Sophie heard something outside so she barked. This startled me so I jerked up, which startled Emily so she propelled herself out from under the sheet, launching out from the sheets by digging in her rear claws from a rather sensitive area on my chest.  I cleaned the wound, which had drawn some blood, with an antibacterial ointment and kept it clean for the next several days. I became worried, though, when family and friends expressed concerns that cat scratches could get infected.

Mountains, Snow, Sunset, Dusk, Twilight

The mountain:

10 days later I was concerned at how the wound was still very painful; plus after wearing a large bandaid all day I removed it and the adhesive had caused a rash. So, off to Urgent Care. Now when I told my story there of what had occurred, the staff was compelled to file papers with the department of health because a pet that should have been up to date on rabies vaccinations was involved.

Emily was overdue by just a few months on her rabies shot. So, I received a call and letters from the dept of health threatening that if I could not produce evidence of her vaccination, Em would need to be confined for ten days and some hefty fines were due.  After one phone call which seemed to clear some of it up, I thought this would pass but then received another set of even more threatening mail.

The vet had told me they could not even set an appointment to vaccinate her because I had received these letters; not until the department of health would say they could proceed.

That night I worried deeply. Would they come to take away my sweet little Emily? She is an indoor cat, perfectly healthy, and all this was just a freak accident. I called upon spiritual guidance and understanding but had trouble getting any sleep.

My dear Emily and Sophie

The molehill again:

The next morning bright and early I called a number from the letter.  A man whose last name ironically reminded me of Spirit talked to me and helped me understand that it was going to be okay. The ten days had passed and so long as I could get Emily vaccinated by a certain date, the fine would be cut in half.  He would contact the vet; we could go in. (Currently I am awaiting our appointment but feel much relieved.)

So what was my lesson here? To trust that no matter how out of proportion things might seem, things will be okay by reaching out to communicate with all concerned. Also though, I got to see how my own fears sometimes magnify a situation.

When I dwell mainly in my emotions about a situation, my mind can spin out of control.  I need to work on this; living humanly alone means I do not always have someone right at hand that I can reason things out with when needed. Except for inner guidance.

Trust is a big lesson, always.

Hand, Child, Sweet, Infant, Trust, God
images are from pixabay.com

Training Wheels

Bike, Cycling, Child, Training Wheels

I believe in inner guidance and have relied on it quite a bit in my life. Whether through dreams, clear nudges, or sometimes in direct contemplation or lucid visions, answers to questions I am pondering often provide clear direction for my growth and development.  Reliance on inner guidance is not an abdication of personal responsibility and agency; it is simply a matter of developing and utilizing our innate human potential for connecting with our own higher viewpoint or spiritual awareness that is available to anyone at any time. 

Last week I was walking with my dog Sophie for our daily exercise around the neighborhood. I heard the voice of a man calling out:

“Stay to the side of the road! Watch for cars!”

When I looked to where the voice was coming from, I saw a small boy, maybe five or six, riding on a little bicycle out from his driveway, followed by a man with a slightly greyed beard whom I presumed was the boy’s father or perhaps his grandfather. Then I saw the boy’s bicycle was equipped with training wheels. His mentor was coaching from behind the young boy, helping him learn to ride a bike.

I watched the man and boy as they rode up the road, side by side up to an intersection where they turned off into the same performing arts parking lot that Sophie and I were heading to for our daily walk.

Person, Man, Child, People, Grandfather

A bit later while Sophie and I were still moving about at the arts center, I saw the boy come racing out on his training bike from the box office area; I mean, really fast for a little boy learning to feel comfortable on a bike.

“Very good! Now, put on your brake! Be careful!”

The boy did as instructed and applied his brakes gently but firmly; he came to a definite but not too hard of a stop. Then father and son continued back toward their home again, with the father following in the rear, allowing the boy to be in the lead yet knowing he could rely on his mentor’s guidance as needed.

Duck, Pond, Lake, Mama, Nature, Water

Watching the boy learning to ride a bike reminded me of how my Dad taught me to swim. We had a backyard pool. He had the hose filling it for the season, but he brought me into the pool when it was maybe three or four feet deep. First, he just held me up and gently let me go, telling me to use my arms to stay afloat. Next, Dad pulled a few feet away from where I was holding onto one side of the pool, and he asked me to swim to him. Then, he pulled further away and further, each time asking me to swim to him. If I was too afraid to try, he would move closer that round. Finally, he was at the opposite side of the pool and I was able to cross the great waters to reach him!

This is how inner guidance generally works with me. It lets me do all I can on my own, but when I need help, I know I can always call on what I perceive as my inner Guides for support, protection and guidance.

Fantasy, Portrait, Root, Moss, Forest
images are from pixabay.com

As I have been reflecting on this gift of inner guidance after watching the boy learn to ride a bike, I realize how a good part of working with inner guidance involves developing self-reflexive awareness. We learn to look at ourselves as a mentor, guide or Master might look at us; so we maintain a higher viewpoint and can self-correct as well as receive direct inner guidance as needed. This can help us build self discipline and somewhat of a more objective viewpoint about our own attitudes or actions.

Please note that I have added a new feature to the blog in the right column. You are invited to engage with the journaling prompts in the Better Endings SEED STORY prompts. Enjoy!