On the topic of goodbyes

There are a lot of goodbyes happening right now… undergrads graduating and moving on, grad students getting their first jobs, friends moving on to the next stage in their lives.

At dinner last night with two recently graduated students, we talked about moving on and saying goodbye. What struck me  was the nonchalance we now have when we say goodbye.

I’ve had 17 different addresses in my life. That’s one address for every two years of my life. Most of these were accompanied by a big move and the need to say goodbye. It was never easy but I learned to let go and move on… to say goodbye.

Before email and social media, we were reliant upon letter writing as the primary means of staying in touch. As the world’s worst letter writer, that meant I had to learn how to say goodbye. That’s not the case anymore.

Social media keeps us clued in these days. It’s not that people say goodbye and move away, it’s that people and their relationships with us move to a digital space. Feelings, news and statuses are still shared. A connection is still easily kept, just in another way.

And I wonder if we’re not worse off because of it. Maybe its because I emotionally compartmentalize my life, but I feel more able to cut my strings and move on. I am equipped and able to say goodbye to people, experiences and institutions. My ability to let go and move forward is something I consider to be a strength.

I’ll give you this: My relationships with former colleagues and students remains strong because of social media and I wouldn’t give that up for anything. 

A book that has always stayed with me is Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. This quote sums it up for me:

If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then when we finally overcome space and time, we’ve destroyed our own brotherhood! But overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now. And in the middle of Here and Now, don’t you think that we might see each other once or twice?
– Jonathan Livingston Seagull,  Richard Bach
To those of you we’re saying goodbye to, I’ll see you in the middle of Here and Now.
On the topic of goodbyes

5 thoughts on “On the topic of goodbyes

  1. It’s like we are the same people. I have always found goodbyes ‘easy’ (society tells me it should feel shameful to type that), but I keep the relationships going that matter and mean much to me, and those people know that. Whether it is text messaging or social media, and then the occasional visit when in town, they know they still matter and are very much a close friend of mine.

    When you move around every couple of years, if you don’t make goodbye easy on yourself, it’s just way too gruesome each new time and you know it will come anyway.

    1. One of my biggest fears is that this has become a reflex.

      I fear that in letting goodbyes become easy, that I’m doing those relationships/friendships a disservice.

      Its a hard line to balance… and one that hasn’t gotten easier with time (although I’d like to think I can do it with grace and dignity).

  2. Social media has absolutely allowed me to retain/strengthen relationships, but when I read the words “And I wonder if we’re not worse off because of it”, I immediately thought about the importance people place on their “friends” and “connections”; hoarding them, unable to remove even the most toxic people.

    Goodbye should not be an easy thing to do, but it should be possible.

      Absolutely, so many forget that there are actual people behind Twitter handles and Facebook accounts.

      We’re not Pokemon. There’s no reason to collect them all.

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