There’s a certain sense of relief and clarity that comes with knowing that something is over and there is absolutely no going back. Whether the finality comes in the form of achievement or a sudden and crushing end, the human mind has a remarkable ability to focus on other matters as soon as it realises something is over.
Often that finality comes in the form of hope being extinguished. I’ve always been a believer that false hope is one of the cruellest burdens a person can bear, so even if hope is finally snuffed out, it means you can move on.
Think of that period when you like a girl or guy but you’re not sure it is reciprocated. If you really like them, it means butterflies in the stomach, irrational angst over a slow response to an SMS and the over-analysing of every word said in the search of clues on the other person’s true feelings (or maybe that’s just me). But you just want to know either way – the thrill of the chase is grossly overrated if you actually care about the other person.
Think of the last time you resigned from a job. Towards the end of my previous employ I felt conflicted between the need to move on and do something different versus loyalty to a boss that I greatly admired and loved working for. It was a tough decision, but as soon as I signalled my intent, a huge burden felt lifted from my shoulders – even though I hadn’t already organised a new job to move on to.
And somewhere in a compound under attack from the rebel liberators of Libya, Colonel Gaddafi knows it is the end. Whether his end is death or being tried in an international court for his crimes, I bet somewhere in the dark recesses of his mind he is thankful that the arm wrestle for Libya is over, even if it means it is his knuckles on the table.
Once something is done and dusted, either by your hand or the hand of others, there’s nothing left to do but move on. If you truly know something is over, you can be surprisingly quick in your refocus on the future – on what you can actually alter.
Unfortunately, recognising that something is finished and not holding out false hope is the hardest part of the process.