“You do what you have to do to give people closure” (John Scalzi).
SOME PEOPLE ARE NOT BOTHERED BY “LOOSE ENDS” AS MUCH AS OTHERS, BUT ALL OF US, TO SOME EXTENT, FIND INCOMPLETENESS TO BE FRUSTRATING. We like to see unfinished business finished, and we prefer projects to be wrapped up rather than left hanging. In short, we see “closure” as a positive goal worth pursuing.
The fact that most people are this way is no coincidence. I believe that a desire or need for closure is deep within us. We live in a broken world where there is much incompleteness and many of our longings seem to go unfulfilled. Both in the small details of daily living and in the big picture of life, we sense that, somehow, things are not as they should be. And so we yearn for a perfection, a completeness that is not ours to enjoy at present. Sometimes our yearning for closure can be so deep that it is painful, but as Augustine of Hippo observed, “Anxiety has its use, stimulating us to seek with keener longing for that security where peace is complete and unassailable.”
Of course, if we’re looking for some golden age when all of the loose ends will be tied up and everything will be perfect, then we’re looking for something that is not going to be found in this world. In the here and now, there is no such thing as complete closure, and we need to come to terms with that. As far as “life under the sun” is concerned, the writer of Ecclesiastes was exactly right: “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered.”
Nevertheless, while we sojourn in this world there are specific projects that we can bring to completion, and while we have the opportunity we should do so. We should finish as much of our work as we can. Not only that, but we need to serve those around us in such a way that we help them close the open loops in their own lives. As John Scalzi said, “You do what you have to do to give people closure.”
To sum up, then, we need “initiative” (the ability to get things started) and also “finishiative” (the ability to complete what has been started). Getting started is obviously important, but without closure many of our good deeds will be less good. “It is well thou hast begun, go on; it is the end that crowns us, not the fight” (Robert Herrick).
“The virtue of deeds lies in completing them” (Arabian Proverb).