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2003-02-04 10:05 a.m.

Our culture correlates finiteness with failure. In other words, if something ends everyone thinks it failed. If a rock star is not as famous as they once were, people say they are a loser. If your relationship ends, people say it failed.

But, if you buy a CD and it ends, are you surprised? If you go to a movie and it ends, you don't ask for your money back and talk about how disappointing it was—how it failed you somehow. Why is that?

Moments are meant to be framed. A movie or song is framed by the time before it and the time after it. Without that frame—that before and after—the song is just another word in a run–on sentence that seemed interesting at first but you can't quite gauge its importance because it just goes on and on and on but never ends. Song after song becomes frantic, tiring. The mind loses its ability to perceive and appreciate and digest without proper pauses—whole note rests framing life's dynamic moments.

People die. We don't expect them to live with us forever. Friendships die, too. Now, they may be reborn in another form, but the previous form dies. There follows a silence. And only then the new form can come into being.

The same holds true for our moments. A moment is beautiful because it has both a beginning and an end—an elegant frame of time that draws the mind's eye to the most important details and emotions of that moment. The before and after allow us to judge time, maintain perspective, characterize an epoch. The pauses, the breaks, the lulls are the times when we digest, process, and learn.

History shows us that even the most brilliant minds are not appreciated until they die, until the world has time to taste what life is like in their absence. But in that quiet buttery light before sunset, all can sit and reflect and truly know the importance of what happened, and how their worlds were forever altered by this thing which has ceased to be.

And the same is true for moments. Love them enough to let them go. That way they can regenerate into something new. There is no failure in that. This ending is not really an end at all. It is simply the pause before persons, places, things, and memories can rise to immortality.