Discover more from Reflections of a Boston Lawyer
On Endings and Beginnings
Moving Forward by Embracing Change
A short and quickly dashed-off post today, as I spent the last three days at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio (and traveling there and back) for my last set of Board of Trustees meetings as a “Standard Trustee.” I now will take emeritus status and will remain connected but less engaged, a nice place to be after nearly 20 years of active service. More on that in a minute, but for now suffice it to say that after leaving my house at 6:00 a.m. on Thursday and arriving back at 12:45 a.m. this morning, I’m afraid any effort I make to produce a gem of a post today will not go well.
My change of status on the College of Wooster Board of Trustees after so many years of service brings to mind today’s theme. We’re in a season of endings. Take education. Students and teachers at all levels have been finishing their academic years. Many of those same students have been graduating to begin their next adventures. Graduations are called “commencements” because as one chapter ends, the next -- hopefully much longer -- chapter begins.
But this has been a week of endings outside of academia as well. For a Boston Celtics fan like me, it was the end of another frustrating post-season with a good team that did not always play up to its fans’ expectations. I imagine Lakers fans are feeling the same way now that the NBA Finals have begun without their favorite team. (Don’t even get me started on why these Celtics and Lakers teams don’t resemble the 1980s teams led by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. For a partial glimpse of that, you might read the piece in today’s Boston Globe by sports columnist and Boston Celtics chronicler Bob Ryan.)
Television viewers also have been seeing some of the most popular and creative shows come to an end, shows like “Succession” and “Ted Lasso” and the somewhat-less-awesome “Barry,” to name a few. Who knows when we’ll see shows of that caliber again now that the writers are on strike? “Succession” and “Lasso” would be hard acts to follow even if the writers were still working.
But many endings make new beginnings possible. “In my end is my beginning,” wrote T.S. Eliot, and while his poem “East Coker” explored more profound questions than I am doing here, on a very basic level it all comes down to embracing change.
Some recent graduates will enter the work force, and some of those people will begin new and promising careers. Others will advance to higher levels of education in the hope of one day finding their place in a dauntingly complex society. In each case, it’s the ending that enables the beginning.
The NBA playoffs march on. The teams that did not make it to the Finals will use the off-season to examine their rosters and make the changes they hope will bring them closer next year.
Television programming will move ahead once the labor issues are resolved, and we can hope that networks and streaming services will once again provide us with some new high-quality programming to view.
And for some of us rolling off nonprofit boards, the future couldn’t be brighter. I’m referring both to our personal futures and to the futures of the institutions we’ve served.
One of the most profound recent changes my college’s Board of Trustees made to its governance structure was to implement term limits for board members. The only limit we had before was an age limit, a rule that allowed trustees who began their service at relatively young ages to remain on the board for decades (assuming they were re-elected at the end of every three-year term). Now we have a new regime that allows for more rapid (though not too rapid) turnover while still providing significant opportunities for term-limited board members to remain engaged. It’s a good balance that many of us believe will bring a new level of energy and vibrancy to what was already a high-performing board.
On my own personal level, I am thoroughly enjoying the new beginning I received when I recently retired from more than four decades of law firm practice. Now, the additional move into emeritus trustee status on my college’s board will provide me even more time to pursue my several interests and to serve more causes I believe in.
After closely watching the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals only to see my disappointing team lose again, I realized in a new way that I am now well into the fourth quarter of my life. I hope to use whatever time I have left to contribute to the common good in whatever modest ways I can, to engage in creative and worthy activities that I value and enjoy, and to make the most of the time I’m able to spend with the people I care about and new people I meet along the way.
In my end is my beginning. Whatever quarter of life you are in today, may all your endings lead to new and increasingly rewarding beginnings, for as long as you have the capacity and good fortune to take them on.
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