‘Farewell has a sweet sound of reluctance’. John Steinbeck.
How many times in one life do we say goodbye? Goodbye to a relationship, goodbye to a human-being, goodbye to a job; a place or a thought or way of being? Depending on the level of connection we have to any number of things we form attachments to, this one word can make or cripple us. Sometimes a combination of the two.
Saying goodbye to a habit for instance can be for one’s greater good, but a habit is characterised not just by a regular tendency, but a settled one. We become quite safe in our habits and so saying goodbye can also be painful.
One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from an episode of Madmen.
‘In ancient Greece, nostalgia literally meant ‘the pain from an old wound’, a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. It is a pain that takes us to a place where we ache to go again. Nostalgia (is not a) wheel but a carousel, letting us travel the way a child travels…Around & around & back home again, to a place we know we are loved’.
Sometimes, even long after we’ve said goodbye, we ‘ache’ to return to the moment we said hello. To the smells, tastes, touches …to the language, to the eyes you had for the world and the music that seemed to provide the perfect soundtrack. But I wonder if it’s not impossible to consider that goodbye is never final. That those eyes you had for the world will forever be changed and the language that you found at the time still finds its way into your every day dialogue.
I found myself only yesterday for instance, teaching a young child my ‘knee dance’, a dance that came about at a certain time when I was happy. A knee dance is in fact a happy dance.
The little boy was standing on the street, outside my favorite market holding, rather gleefully, an ice-cream. His father was having trouble prising the ice-cream from his grasp, which was rather hilarious as all he was trying to do was help his child unwrap it.
Believing very much in the joys talking to strangers can bring, I bent down to the child and commented on how happy he looked with his ice-cream, happy enough for a ‘knee dance’. As I said the words I was instantly transported by the carousel, saying hello to a someone, a time and a place.
Instead of quickly jumping off the ride however I taught this little stranger my dance and marveled at the laughter that erupted from all three of us as we danced quite peculiarly, quite publicly over an ice-cream.
Wonder.Meant …that for every time I have said a goodbye, I have also said a hello.