I don’t think any characters in The Office experience quite as many tragedies as Andy Bernard and Toby Flenderson. While watching The Office finale, I’ve always felt so sorry for them.
However, I recently had a realization: these two characters actually did have a good ending.
The Office Finale Provides a Broader Definition of a Meaningful Life
Besides marriage and kids there are many other pursuits that can create a meaningful life. For example, you could dedicate your life to serving others, nurturing close friendships, seeking spiritual truth or working in a career you’re passionate about.
This last pursuit perfectly describes Andy’s and Toby’s situations at the end. Andy finally found a real job that he’s passionate about at Cornell, and Toby is a full-time writer.
A job you’re passionate about can provide just as much joy as a romantic relationship. However, Toby doesn’t seem to grasp this. He begins sobbing while dancing with Pam at Dwight and Angela’s wedding because he’s upset about “everything.”
It’s unfortunate that he is unable to appreciate the things he has been blessed with – a talent and passion for writing and the guts to live like a pauper to do the work he loves. Also, living in New York City, he’s literally in a writer’s mecca.
His life isn’t perfect, but it’s unrealistic to expect to experience abundance in all areas of life at the same time.
Andy Bernard has the Right Attitude
You could argue that Andy and Toby are pretty romantically-focused throughout the series, so how could they possibly find joy in vocation alone? Well, it’s implied that Andy has actually found joy.
For him, it’s not just a wife he desired but a family. Even though he never gets his “little soybean” or “nard pups,” he has a pretty good attitude in the finale.
The Last Days of The Office
I feel like The Office finale was kind of like the videos from SoulPancake’s YouTube series, My Last Days. The characters each had an opportunity to reflect on their life and share their message of what made their life meaningful.
Whether it’s the freedom to be yourself (Meredith) or the courage to speak your mind (Pam), there are many blessings that make life worthwhile, and we’re each blessed with different ones.
The Joy of Friendship
Overall, I would say that all the characters were blessed with one thing in particular: friendship. In fact, when Toby is about to bail on the after party and “turn in early,” his coworkers eagerly encourage him to go.
While you may have wished for something more for Toby – like a stable job and a wonderful wife – I think if the writers had given that to all the characters, they’d be sending the wrong message about the meaning of life.
I really appreciate how the writers of The Office showed that a dream deferred, or even many dreams deferred, does not mean you can’t live a meaningful life.