Closure vs. Peace

Mere hours after declining a great job to save her relationship, Robin is devastated: Her boyfriend Don took the very gig she was offered first — and will now leave her for a new career in Chicago. In the How I Met Your Mother episode that keeps on giving, aptly titled Unfinished, she struggles to find closure, leaving angry message after angry message on Don’s answering machine.

No matter how much Lily tries to help her, Robin just can’t move on. Eventually, she realizes:

“I am never going to have closure. Closure doesn’t exist. One day, Don and I are moving in together, and the next thing I know, he’s on a plane to Chicago. It just…ended. And no matter how much I try to forget that it happened, it will have never not happened. Don and I will always be a loose end. We’ll always be…unfinished.”

We all have relationships like that, don’t we? I’ve been rejected by many women in my life. Plenty of those interactions ended in ways that felt like Robin’s relationship crashing and burning — as if the other person just got on a plane and never came back. Unfinished.

In a dream the other day, I had a closure conversation with my high school crush. It was marked by all the usual oddities of a dream — first and foremost that we were two grown adults sitting in class — and yet even in this imaginary setting, we didn’t manage to see eye to eye before I woke up.

In fact, while still dreaming, I noticed I would never run out of things to say. About how I felt. About what I had wished for at the time. About what I thought of her actions, how I would change mine in retrospect, and on and on I could go. The mind will be an endless well for as long as you keep digging — and you can always keep digging.

The incident made me realize that, often in life, closure indeed escapes our grasp. We usually don’t get to nicely wrap up our last project on the job, say goodbye to everyone before we move, or find perfect harmony with an ex as we part ways. Like nature, life likes to leave loose ends, and we must learn to live with them.

But if closure isn’t really built into the system, perhaps it’s also not essential. After all, we do move on from imperfect situations all the time, don’t we? That’s the right keyword, too: time. Time is the universal remedy. We can’t apply too much of it. We can’t fake it. We can’t speed up its passage. But we always move through time, and after we’ve done so long enough, eventually, we’ll feel…open. Healed. Ready for something new.

Not thanks to closure, perhaps, but whatever the force that drives us to mend, to forget, to move on, eventually, it will bring us to a viewpoint from which we can look at the future, take it in fully, and simply enjoy the breadth of the road ahead. Just like Robin when, after nobody-knows-how-many months, she once again tries to call Don’s number, and a lady answers the phone in a foreign language. “Huh. Well… Finished with that, I guess.”

Closure may be a unicorn, but peace comes to all who are willing to wait for it. Don’t let loose ends hold you back for too long. Only the universe knows what’s unfinished, and it will gesture you to all the right starting lines soon enough.