Things End Before New Ones Begin

Pointers on quitting anything, or anyone

Every beginning ends something. And every ending begins something else. Marriage ends your single life. Kids end your honeymoon period. One day, something will end you. In a million years, we’ll all revert back to star trash. Beats the hell out of dinosaur piss.

Every single one of us will see countless finales before the supernova that starts the next universe. The Stephen Hawking types say these galaxies will eventually start contracting again.

All the way back to a tight white sparkle.

They call it the Big Crunch hypothesis. What a great name. Makes the cosmos sound like a candy bar.

And here we sit in the middle of all that, breaking someone’s heart. Or writing a resignation letter. One that maybe we’ve written before, in a previous universe, on slightly different letterhead.

It’s entirely possible that you and I have happened a thousand times, in lives where we made slightly different choices.

You might happen over and over again. Without even knowing it. And if that’s possible, then a big crunch feels doable in a single lifetime. All on your own. You don’t have to sit around waiting for entropy.

Everyone thinks about quitting. Not just their jobs. But their marriages. Their lovers. Their friends. You can quit anything and anyone. You just don’t always know if it’s the right move.

That’s where the big crunch helps. You stop thinking about the end, and focus on the beginning that comes later. Can you imagine a better future? Then maybe just maybe, you need a big crunch. It’s probably gonna suck. A part of you probably doesn’t want to quit.

You’ll probably find ways to talk yourself out of it. Look at me and my job. I’ve talked myself out of quitting for lots of reasons. Comfort. Salary. Job title. Fear. None of them great…

But lately I’m thinking more about my future, the post-crunch era. Maybe you are too. What we’ll do with the newfound time.

Expand, that’s we’ll do.

This feels like a decisive moment. The one where you sit down and start drafting your resignation. Your breakup letter. You’re not just ending something. You’re crunching for your next universe.

You need more than logic on your side to rig a big crunch. More than lists of pros and cons. More than debates with yourself and your loved ones. More than advice from friends and colleagues.

Do all that, but also know that one last thing remains…a feeling. The smallest blueshift of optimism. Seen through a telescope.

That’s the first sign of your big crunch.

My first blueshift happened in my 20s. I’d just finished my MFA and gotten dumped right around the same time.

My future looked like the night sky in a desert, vast and overwhelming. There I was under the millions of stars. Single. Skilled. Unemployable. Small. Not a whole lot of job prospects for a literary fiction writer…

If you’ve never stood in the middle of a bunch of cacti and looked up at a bunch of stars, maybe you should. Really puts things into perspective. Worth the drive, and the gas money.

So you might have to start a new career path. Learn how to enjoy the single life again. Everything tends to work out, even better than you hoped. But only if you follow through on your big crunch. Crush your universe down into pure energy for the next one.

The older we get, the more a big crunch scares us. Our past piles up in the rear view, and the future looks shorter. We don’t think we’ll have enough time for another bang, another Jurassic.

We want to hang on to what we’ve got, even as it slips away into the darkness of some black hole.

We’ll go diving after our status quo, dooming ourselves.

Look at me. I’m writing a resignation letter. And yet, it feels like more. Like a little death. But it’s not. This is my big crunch. I’m ending one thing to start another. Keeping my teaching job (or now). Throwing back my gig as an associate department head, along with its immortal headache. And giving up the nice little pay bump…

I’m looking into the future, at a new universe.

One where I have time to focus just on teaching, my family, and figuring out my next career. A future where I don’t worry more about schedules and budgets than my bosses do.

Big crunching your life isn’t the same as blowing it up. You’re not destroying anything. Just compressing it. For once, we can be the ones playing fiddle while Rome burns. I bet it’s pretty.

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