“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” -Dr. Seuss
Ok, I’ll admit it. I stink at goodbyes. Not just the big goodbyes but often the day to day, everyday down on the ground goodbyes fly past me without notice. Goodbyes come in many forms, shapes and sizes and although they aren’t always difficult, they are often forgotten as something to honor each time we must use them, which is a lot! We say goodbye to seasons, friends, gardens, pets, loved ones, homes, our parents, our childhood…everything is open for change and with this comes the need to find skillful presence and strength as we also face the raw human experience of loss or letting go.
The truth is, goodbyes aren’t always easy. Many are excruciating. Yet they teach us more about ourselves than any hello could ever dream of. The most challenging ones offer us an opportunity to grow. The simple goodbyes, a nod to the temporary, the unknown, our faith that this person, that coffee shop, my home, will still be there later today. We say goodbye everytime we leave our family and friends during normal routines. We say goodbye to the leaves as they fall off the trees and to the year behind us as we look forward to the new year.
Parting can bring sweet sorrow anchored deep in our human hearts. This can make it hard to let go of something or someone, yet there’s a beautiful song that can arise if we learn to handle goodbye with the gratitude and acceptance that comes with knowing the inevitable intimately. Think about how many songs and poems are crafted from goodbye. Millions in fact. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Hello Goodbye, Candle in the Wind, Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright….endless pop songs about endings!
In this past year I’ve had to say goodbye to a forever friendship I thought I had, a pet I loved, my yoga practice due to an injury, my children needing me to pack their lunch (not missing that one so much – hello, high school). Some goodbyes were out of my control, some were chosen and heart breaking. When I think about my most painful goodbyes my chest tightens. Or the ones where I never got to say goodbye, a looming forever need I must find the closure for on my own. I can almost feel tears when I imagine sending my boys off when they graduate high school. Goodbyes live within this moment. They are the inevitable. I trust they are coming. So I try and prepare.
Our mindset is a key part of how we handle them. Goodbye can be terrifying but can also teach us about how to begin again, an opportunity to embrace every hello from the vantage point of letting go. Our lives are filled with so many unique situations and even the hardest goodbyes, as in death of a loved one, aren’t something we can predict in terms of our emotions. Our continuous reflections on impermanence and the constant state of change in our lives can help us develop the strength and courage we need to say goodbye whether it’s with words or silence.
I had a dear teacher I had to say goodbye to who once said: “It’s not in how we say hello, but goodbye, that really counts.” As winter approaches, I encourage you to find the art of goodbye inside yourself. Ask the questions that matter most to you. How do I say goodbye when I’m tired or upset? How do I listen and be present in a situation where goodbye might be forever? Where does it feel hardest or where am I asleep and forgetting this moment and the inevitable?
Photo Credit: mural-girl-balloon-heart-graffiti-1331783 by Zorro4 – https://goo.gl/iJtXrc