An announcer on the radio described Cole Porter’s method of song writing. He said that he would get an idea, then he would develop the melody and then the lyrics. He said that Cole Porter believed every song had to have a strong finish.
That statement made me think about life, for our life is like a song, with a beginning, middle, and end. And how we live our song determines the finish. Yet the ending of this life experience merely sets the stage for the continuing of life on some other dimension or level of heaven. We are always building on what we are.
So what does it mean to have a strong finish? An example came to mind. When I was attending my university, I learned that there was a dance program, and that dance classes counted as physical education credits. I was in heaven–I could get credit for dancing! The teacher was an innovative choreographer and demanding instructor. From the classes, she also chose students to be part of a performing dance group, and a few of us also assisted her with her doctoral film.
I was privileged to be one of the dancers and reveled in learning from her. Her feet were hard and calloused from years of dancing, but her ideas and vision were fresh and ahead of the times. I valued those times, for it was in dance that I discovered there was a part of me that could soar free, dislocate from the body and be only ecstatic expression in motion. Through dance I discovered I was something more, and this joy, freedom and love set me free.
About three years after graduation, I discovered the spiritual teachings that became my life study– Eckankar, the Religion of the Light and Sound of God. I began to practice spiritual exercises, which are daily contemplations, and found that they gave me the same freedom and heightened awareness that I felt in dance. I discovered I could have this freedom and happiness every day. The greatest discovery was that I learned there would never be an end to this process of revelation and discovery. As long as I continued to study and learn, the worlds of consciousness would continue to open their secrets to me.
For some, the path to discovery lies in the religion of their childhood, but now seen as an adult with new eyes of understanding. Having been tempered by experience and the fires of life, teachings of years past may now reveal a deeper meaning to the message of love and service. Others feel they need to explore and find a new path that better fits their evolving beliefs. The main thing is that we each follow the path in life that opens us to love and the inner light and sound of God’s voice, the Holy Spirit.
Several years ago, I was in the university town on personal business and happened to see a local newspaper. I was surprised and delighted to see a picture of my teacher from my college days. At that time she was in her nineties. Her hips and knees long since worn out from years of dancing, she had channeled her creative abilities into local conservation projects and had written and published several novels. A strong, creative life with a strong finish.
To me, a strong finish simply means we continue to use our creative abilities to re-invent ourself, discover new interests and develop new talents. In other words, we find ways to fan the flame of love and creativity, and give it to life in some way. A daily spiritual practice is the age-old proven way to grow, not just grow old.
Let’s not let self-doubt, shyness, or fear, keep us from trying something new that interests us. But in the end, perhaps a strong finish simply means we have come to know ourself, and that no experience has been in vain if it has led to that knowledge, and the ability to love greatly.
We can follow Cole Porter’s formula…receive an idea, develop it, sing it, live it. It’s our song, our life, to create and love.
Strong love–strong finish.