In my reflections as of late and in gearing up for a HUGE move across the ocean (in just 3 days to be exact!!!!!), in pondering the theme of "leaving" and goodbyes, I realized that really, life is just a series of leavings.
Upon our birth, starting our life off with a leaving. Leaving the safety of our mothers womb and coming into the world. Eventually, growing and leaving the safety and easy innocence of childhood for subsequent life stages. Saying goodbye to our parents and hello to college, closer ties with friends, independence, growth and new experiences. Throughout school, we leave each grade for the next one. Moving up a level, assuming our academics have proved satisfactory.
Then, we leave the romance of academia for the "real world," as they call it. Leaving the safety bubble of dorm rooms, cafeteria food and a life on campus for finding an apartment, most likely in a whole different city. Saying goodbye to some of the friends we made during our time at University. Possibly even saying goodbye to a significant love, if our new lives take us in different directions. We are leaving.
Throughout life, we will leave jobs, relationships, friendships, cities, and homes. We will stay within one job until enticing challenges or further opportunities present themselves and then, leave for that. Relationships. A small number of them will last over the duration of a persons lifetime. Most will not. We need different people at different times during our lives. As desires, life goals, needs and even personalities change, often this goes hand in hand with relationship needs shifting as well.
This goes for both romantic and platonic ones. Friendships come into our lives for a reason. A handful will remain in our lives over the span of many years. Quite a few will not. Again, because of shifting emotional needs, changing values, differing interests, proximity, etc. And of course, a relationship or friendship concluding does not mean that while it lasted, it wasn't wonderful, deep and worthwhile.
Many of us, though not all of us, will live in a handful of different cities throughout our lives. Changing locations with relationship or job opportunities, or for a sense of new beginnings and adventure. Just because. Like dandelion seeds blowing in the wind, if we allow ourselves to be swept up with courage and inspiration, life can take us to so many astounding and character changing places. Both physically ad emotionally. In so many surprising directions. As long as we are brave and open. Attuned to what the universe is offering us. We leave our childhood home for adulthood. And then leave subsequent homes through adulthood for others.
Throughout our lives, we will evolve out of certain ways of thinking and into new ones. Adapting new values and letting go of prior ones. Shedding some personality traits and growing into new ones. We leave people, and things. Values and ideas. Think back to who you were 5 years ago, 10 years ago, even 15 years ago. I imagine there are ways of thinking you have now adapted that previously you wouldn't have considered, certain foods you now love that you once hated, ways you act now that several years ago you never would have, people you are close to now that you wouldn't have imagined. The list goes on.
This is what it means to be human. Continual growth, changes and evolving. Upon ceasing growing and changing, one ceases living.
We leave the routine of our daily lives to go on vacation, exploring other parts of the world. Then, leaving that brief duration of leisure and timelessness for returning to our usual life back home.
The world around us goes through a series of leavings as well. That's what life is. Comings, and goings. Summers leave us each year in making room for fall. The leaves drop off the trees, leaving for the blustering chill of winter to set in. Beloved pets and animals in our lives will pass away, leaving us. Even the agility and youth of our bodies, leaves. The sun comes up each day, leaving us for the magic of nightfall. We leave our homes in the morning to head out and greet the day. Then leaving the consciousness of day to fall into sleep. And of course, at the conclusion of this awesome, one-time deal called life, each of us will leave at the end of it.
Life, both daily and over the course of years, is a series of leavings.
So, in my leaving Europe to head back to New England for the time being, while this feels terrifying (the unknown, as well as worries about regret) and crushingly sad in leaving some very emotionally close, special friendships I have built here, its also an essential and awesome part of life. Leavings.
Leavings fill our hearts with the worth of what we are saying goodbye to. Reminding us of how fleeting life is. That no matter how present you are, reveling and relishing in every moment, it still passes much too quickly. That as much as you might try to reach out and grasp the corner of presents shirt as its passing you by, your hand will come away empty. Life is leaving us in every moment as we speak that's passing. Every minute of every day, leaving us at this very moment.
To piggyback on the topic of leaving, this is why I both love and loath goodbyes. Dreading them for the loss and pain inevitably entwined with a leaving. And yet, loving how goodbyes often result in a rush of bravery and intense emotion, in beautiful words and heartfelt expressions of what that person means to you. When someone we care for leaves, this brings us face to face with what we truly feel for that person. In leaving, many of us finding the courage to finally tell those special to us, the meaning their presence has in our life. How much we love them.
Why do we not say these things sooner? Fear? Pride? A mixture of the two? And what a shame that is. Because hearing the depth and fullness of what someone feels for you is, without question, one of the most heart rending aspects of living.
This is why I both love, and loathe, goodbyes.
In leaving, its there we tend to discover what we truly mean to those in our lives. And, in turn, what they mean to us.
Life, every minute of every day, is a series of leavings. This is both heartbreaking and dazzling. Its what makes life so rich. Loss teaches us appreciation, reveling in the moment, how lucky we really are and how much we actually have. Loss teaches us bravery. And that without darkness, there wouldn't be light. That without time passing and leavings, we would never know fully how achingly amazing all of it really is.