I watch a lot of TV. Most of it good, but sometimes I get sucked into less than good shows. And when I think of endings, my mind is automatically drawn to how various tv shows ended over the years. There are several shows which are, in fact, known for their endings. And we all have our opinions on how favorite shows ended.
One of my person favorites was the ending of Newhart:
It’s the perfect ending, I believe. All the regular characters come back, and they all set up to live happily ever after (more or less), but then there’s the kicker. Newhart looks like he passes out, and then the picture goes to him in bed…on the set of his original tv show with his original tv wife. It’s a wonderful poke at the “it was all a dream” ending–and an even funnier joke to those who knew the old show (or new of it enough to get what was happening). Plus, in his description of the dream he just woke up out of, he poked fun at the premise of the show that was now ending.
I’m not sure what makes an ending good. I’m not sure it can be defined. I know it needs to include a reasonable conclusion of story lines that haven’t yet been wrapped up. It needs to be appropriate for the show itself. It needs to end when it’s right for the show to end (shows that have been on for too long or were cancelled too early tend not to have great endings). It needs to offer some sort of tribute to the characters of the show, with some of them returning–especially those that have died during the course of the show (as in Sam fixing the picture of the Indian on the wall of Cheers as a tribute to Coach as an example). And it needs to make sense.
And I guess that’s what we all want for our own lives. To have an end that includes the conclusion of anything that we haven’t wrapped up yet. To fit in with the rest of the course of our lives and to happen at the right time. To get to see all the important people of our lives one last time–and to remember those that died before us. And it needs to make sense.
But we’re not all that lucky. And certainly, throughout the course of our lives, we experience the endings of others that are none of those things. Maybe that’s part of what this Holy Day season is about. Giving ourselves a chance to do what we can, to shape our lives as completely as possible. And put everything in place. And reflect on what has been and reach out to those who have been part of it along the way. Yom Kippur, we are told, is modeled partially on the idea of it being a symbolic end to our life–that is one reason that some people choose to wear a kittel, a white garment that is traditionally worn by the groom at a wedding, and is also what that man is eventually traditionally buried in. It’s why we stand in front of the open ark (ark and coffin, incidentally, are the same word in Hebrew) at the end of neilah. And we are then reborn for the new year–as new selves, having done teshuva and stepping forward with new opportunity.
No matter how long our life, each year, we have the opportunity to create our own ending. And then to start fresh, with a blank page on which to write a new begining.
In the words of the great sage, Kermit the Frog, “Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending. Keep believing. Keep pretending. We’ve done just what we set out to do.”
a perfect movie ending, btw….with a post credit scene and all…two even…I couldn’t find a clip that included them…feel free to share if you can find one