There really is no appropriate way to say goodbye. The extended hug, the heart-stringed note, the customized playlist. Nothing truly captures the quick slice of physical separation that a goodbye means. I push the uncomfortable and unsettling feeling away that tells me this is the last time I’ll see this best friend, this mentor, this sister, or this significant other. I mask it with, “I’ll call you everyday” or “We’ll skype all the time”, hoping those words may submerge the feelings of anxiety that comes when the car drives off past the horizon’s line.
Every foot I step away from that person, each glorious memory of our time together comes flooding back. There’s no denying it’s painful and beautiful at the same time. The fact that we as a one individual human can have a profound impact on other human’s life, to the point where whirl-pooling depression can set in when distance is placed in between one another, is fascinating. But no one focuses on this when the goodbyes are imminent. No one focuses on the faded fantasies.
“That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.”
Walt Whitman; “O Me! O Life!”
Maybe Walt wasn’t just talking about the purpose of life. Maybe he was speaking about every fractal of life’s glimmers, each relationship we hold, each one we lose. The plays boil down farther than the broad arc of an individual life. Each connection we form contributes to the scenes of our plays, and these goodbyes often signal the end of a chapter in our life. We can only hold off so long until the next page is imminent. And that’s where the fear sets in.
I am often unsure of which characters in my life will be pushed smoothly into my book’s next chapter. Will I fight for the characters to keep their main roles, or let them fade into the background as afterthoughts in my quest for the next rising action? Do I even have the power to control my own book, when each character in mine is also fighting to create their own masterpiece where I may be a shadow of their supporting cast?
And this is where the awkwardness of goodbyes originates from. Subconsciously, the amount we are willing to fight for each other in our lives must be parallel. Both individuals must be willing to “sound their barbaric YAWP” in each other’s next chapter. If the mind’s armies are not ready for the battle of distance, time, and space – the goodbyes are exactly that: final farewells.
The feeling of our own mortality in someone else’s book is truly disparaging. The fact that our daily interactions can mean nothing and everything at the same time… that our actions can change the course of the world and also be forgotten within the turn of a page – it’s fucking terrifying.
—Usually in my Audible Thoughts posts, I have a piece of advice to share with my readers – but today, I don’t. The concept of goodbyes has been troubling me as of late, and it needed to be shared. As I’ve said before, these posts are a blur of my thoughts and keep me accountable to my questioning of life. But if I’ve learned anything as of late – being uncomfortable with life’s reality is something that must be learned, accepted, and felt with every fiber of one’s body.
More to come soon.
One of my favorite quotes and something for you to live by, coined by Paulo Coehlo in my favorite book, The Alchemist
“We are travelers on a cosmic journey, stardust, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Life is eternal. We have stopped for a moment to encounter each other, to meet, to love, to share. This is a precious moment. It is a little parenthesis in eternity.”
The grand question of life:
Be a Parenthesis or a Chapter’s Title.
The inspiration for this post came from many influences, but largely when a best friend left for Asia for an extended teaching assignment. As much as I wanted to say the perfect thing upon her departure, no words came to mind that fit my overwhelming feeling of despair. The word goodbye just didn’t suffice. I’ve been thinking about that moment, and other related ones for the past three weeks now…
In our last encounter, we went and saw an Odesza show. Although this isn’t my typical choice of music, it has been my soundtrack as of late. Probably both because it reminds me of our friendship and because it’s actually some damn good music. If you’re interested in checking the Seattle duo out, take a listen below. Should be a good mix for any weekend or workout.