After a while you learn the subtle differencesbetween holding a hand and chaining a soul. And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning and company doesn't always mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes ahead with the grace of an adult, not the grief of a child And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much. So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure that you really are strong and you really do have worth. And you learn and you learn with every goodbye you learn . . .
One of my favorite teachers- my freshman and senior year English teacher, Ms. Smith- read this as a prayer to us before each class. I appreciated it because it wasn't all Roman Catholic Church culty. I prayed enough Our Fathers and Hail Marys in high school to bring saints back from the dead. So I appreciated the secular way in which she tried to plant seeds of wisdom and peace with that passage. She was such a phenomenal teacher. I don't only remember her for how much MORE she got me to love Greek mythology (I already adored it coming into her class) and for how gentle her approach to everything was, but for this passage. Every time I say a goodbye, I think of Ms. Smith. (I have goosebumps now just thinking about her and her class. And now I'm laughing because I chased her down at the Whole Foods two weeks ago so I could run into her and say hello and give her a hug!)
Tonight, I'm thinking about goodbyes. Being a parent now, I realize how much life is about goodbyes. Big and small goodbyes.
I say goodbye to a round of clothing every 3 months or so.
I said goodbye to my single and somewhat carefree life the moment she came through me into the world.
I am still saying goodbye to the idea of her sleeping in our bed every night. I'm still getting used to it. After a year, it's a slow and heartbreaking process. For me, at least.
But much more than all of that, I realize the need to say goodbye to every moment that has just passed because there is just not enough time and energy in the world to hold on to the past. We must breathe new life and be new every day.
If I am to be present at each moment with my daughter, I have to let go of what just happened moments ago. I have to release my hold on routines and schedules and whatever I think I know. Because she is always changing. And I am always changing too. I heard something spoken last night in one of my favorite tv shows: "Eventually, over time, we all become our own doppelgangers. These completely different people who just happen to look like us." It made me think that every step forward we take, every breath, is a change and a goodbye to some old version of ourselves. Which is why goodbyes aren't so difficult or sad for me- they happen all the time whether we acknowledge them or not. It's knowing WHEN to say goodbye that's been the humdinger. And sometimes the how, too.
Krishnamurti has a beautiful quote about the importance of saying goodbye to every moment...
We want to continue with our worries, with our pleasures, with our memories; and so most Of us are actually uncreative. There is no possibility of a rebirth, a renewal. Whereas, if each day we died, finished at the end of the day all our worries, all our jealousies, all our idiocies and vanities, our cruel gossip - you know, the whole business - if each day we came to an end and did not carry all that over into tomorrow, then there would be a possibility of renewal, would there not?
So, why do we accumulate? And what is it that we accumulate, apart from furniture and a few other things? What is it that we accumulate? Ideas, words, and memories, do we not? And with these we live - we are those things. With those things we want to live, we want to continue. But if we did not continue, there would be a possibility of a new understanding, a new opening. This is not metaphysical, this is not something fantastic. Experiment with it yourself and you will see that an extraordinary thing takes place. How the mind worries over a problem, over and over and over again, day after day!
Such a mind is incapable, obviously, of seeing something new, is it not? We are caught in our beliefs - religious, sociological, or any other form of belief - and those beliefs are oneself. Beliefs are words, and the word becomes important, and so we live in a sensation which we want to continue, and therefore there is no renewal. But if one does not continue, if one does not give continuity to a worry, but thinks it out, goes into it fully and dissolves it, then one's mind is fresh to meet something else anew.
I wonder what life would be like if we could truly say goodbye to everything, every second. And always be new...