Imagine a marital artist, after years of relentless training, finally kneeling before his master in a ceremony to receive the coveted black belt.
“Before I grant you the belt,” his sensei (teacher) says, “You must pass one more test.”
“I’m ready,” says the eager student, expecting perhaps one more test of his physical agility and skill.
“You must answer the essential question, ‘What is the true meaning of the black belt?’”
The student answers, “The end of my journey, a well-deserved reward for all my hard work.”
The sensei waits for more. Clearly not satisfied, he finally speaks, “You are not ready for the black belt. Return in one year.”
One year later, the student again kneels before his sensei and hears the question, “What is the true meaning of the black belt?”
This time he answers, “It is a symbol of distinction and the highest achievement in our art.”
Still not satisfied, the master once again sends the frustrated student away.
A year later the student kneels for a third time in front of his sensei attain. Again, the master asks the question, “What is the true meaning of the black belt?”
This time the student answers, “The black belt represents not the end, but the BEGINNING, the start of a never-ending journey of discipline, work and the pursuit of an ever-higher standard.”
“Yes,” says the sensei with great satisfaction, “You are now ready to receive the black belt and begin your work.”
Isn’t it true that every major change in life is more of a BEGINNING than an ending? Graduation from school is not a time to quit learning; rather it marks the BEGINNING of the next level of learning.
Marriage and family are BEGINNINGS of new life-styles. And even death, the ultimate change in life, can be seen to be as much of a BEGINNING as birth. Every completion, every change, every accomplishment is simply the start of something new and, quite possibly, wonderful. You may arrive at a magic-like change. Is it an end? Or is it the start of a new beginning?