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