September 7th, 2007


Goodbye is not a four-letter word

Our culture has a distinct problem with letting go. People won't let go of an injury they sustain, of a broken heart or a slighted ego, of a loved one passing away, of a missed opportunity...memory can keep the pain of loss as fresh as the moment is was first experienced. When is the time to let go, though? There is a generally accepted idea of a time frame that it takes to recover, to say one's goodbyes, to grieve, and to let things rest. But people are expected to heal and to recover, eventually. How long is too long? And how short is too short? When do we make the decision to not let something hurt any more?

I've heard countless times from people that they don't want to let go of their emotions or feelings, or to try to control them in any way, because it makes them feel more alive. They make no effort to react in any way except that - in a purely reactional way. Emotions are a part of you - they are not you, and they are a tool, not a master. Emotional approaches to a problem can cause a problem later on, in that reality was never really experienced except through an emotional level. For most, emotional reactions are the most that they will ever have have to remember their passage through the world on this earth by. It's sad, when there are so many other ways to perceive of the world, to conceptualize it.

But. When you delve deep enough into a spiritual means of experiencing reality, then the rest becomes fluid. Emotions become whatever you want them to be. Perceptions are more easily altered. Each moment becomes totally malleable - it is your choice and your right to make what you will of the moment. Letting go becomes easier; the more one becomes accustomed to change, the less one holds onto the individual parts that made up an experience. One remembers the experience so that one can shape the present and set the conditions of the future, but those memories become a tool. The goodbyes must be said. One may reflect, but one may not dwell.

People view goodbyes as such a painful thing. When partings happen, as they inevitably must, people react. They reflect on the good things and times, and on the bad, but their ultimate focus is only that what they experienced is leaving and will not return. It becomes such a personal thing, such a hurtful thing, that sense of loss. But loss fades in time, with distance, with space, with new influences (distractions, in some case). Some consider it disrespectful even to look ahead in this light, to actually say goodbye and to move on, as though it's a crime to let go of pain and heal appropriately. Some wounds people like to keep poking at. Ultimately, I think most people use the pain to remember that something truly happened, to remind themselves it was important. Saying goodbye is not a hurtful thing. It shouldn't be.

They say that when you shut a door, life opens a window: the world is eternally producing new opportunities for you out of the ashes of the old. Why would you persist in clinging to those old chances and might-have-beens when you're in a position to do whatever you want, to feel whatever you want? Each and every moment passing by is a unique one. It was brought to you by the progress of the past, but it is *not* the past. Your whole life and everything you've learned has given you the key to approaching each new moment as you *want* to.

Life is real, and life is perpetually changing. Life is going to change with or without you - the only question stands as to whether or not you're going to do your part to keep up. When you say goodbye, are you saying the words, or living the change it brings?
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    Rufus Wainwright - Hallelujah