"how lucky I am having something that makes saying goodbye so hard" -- Winnie the Pooh
I think the bear is on to something. What does goodbye really mean? I find endings to be a fascinating moment in our process of renewal. Well, maybe fascinating is a bit of stretch. I am definitely very interested. OK, truth be told, I am having a serious case of writer’s block with my book. I have been trying to bust through the wall all weekend and thought a blog post might help me walk around it instead. So bear with me (and pardon the pun).
I am in the midst of several goodbyes at the moment. My niece is about to make her graduation. I am nearing completion of my coaching certification and closing in on the first complete draft of my book (pending end of aforementioned writer’s block). These are happy goodbyes. A celebration of a goal or milestone reached. We shift from one space to another. They seem a part of life’s process, a rite of passage, the natural order of things. I find my emotions a bit of a mixed bag. I am happy for the achievement. I am sad as I know that some things I have come to love will change.
It also seems these events lend a moment to ponder the goodbyes that were not quite so happy. A loved one passes away or a relationship ends. We lose something we didn’t think it was possible to lose. These goodbyes create a void of unknown. It feels lonely and sad. We may ponder what we did to deserve it. If we ponder too long, it can turn into to anger, defeat, and suffering. It can erode our lives, take us off track, and leave us spinning in a cycle of darkness and woe.
Our heart has at least two dimensions. There’s the side that holds our joy, our ability to be happy. Another side holds sadness, despair, hurt. We engage both sides when we say goodbye. We have that moment of sadness, that catch in our throat, that pause that causes us to consider. We don’t want to let go. We have opportunity to reflect on what life has brought us and how life has shifted. And in that reflection, we begin to understand what life may generate in its place. Even in the sadness, there’s the opportunity for something joyful. I think that’s why so many people want us to celebrate their life when they pass. They want us to laugh through the tears and embrace the full capacity of our emotions as we say goodbye.
So I think I get what Pooh is saying… I think. Goodbyes are a necessary part of life. We need doses of sad to appreciate the happy. We are lucky when life brings us the opportunity to experience the pain so that we can more richly embrace the joy.
At least that’s what I think the bear says. That, and I think he just walked me around the wall. Time to get back to my book…