Introspective

How Do You Say “Goodbye…So Long”?

You and I will meet again
When we’re least expecting it
One day in some far off place
I will recognize your face
I won’t say goodbye my friend
For you and I will meet again
~Tom Petty

How does one say “goodbye” or “so long” to friends? How does one mutter those words at the end of the day when you are about to part company? How does one say goodbye to playmates when the sun sets? How does one say so long to critics? For some, goodbyes and so longs are not easy to utter. Such moments induce tears in some and hysteria in others. Goodbye moments have been a source of melancholy and mental anguish for a great many people. After several weeks of friendship you go your separate ways; after several months of fruitful relationship you sever company; and after several years of camaraderie the moment will come for you to walk different paths.

No matter how bitter or joyous the relationship, sooner or later, goodbye moments will become a reality. And no matter how it is said or when it is said, goodbyes and so longs dim the human spirit.

In your twilight years — at 65, 75 or 80 or wherever — or as you near your journey on this earth, you begin to wonder about your past and your future. You begin to wonder about where you came from and where you are headed. You wonder if you loved enough, cared enough, and served humanity to the best of your ability. You wonder if you were a good husband and father and neighbor. You wonder. You wonder about life. And about death. You wonder. You wonder about your journey on this earth. Memories may come flooding; or they may come in episodes. For a long or brief period the memory of your father and mother and friends and relatives may become vivid. In these moments, you may be gripped with fear, trepidation or a sense of calm and contentment. Such is life.

When was the last time you saw your best buddies from your secondary school days? When was the last time you saw your best pals from your college years? When was the last time you saw the fella from your old neighborhood that you thought you’d spend eternity with. When was the last you saw of your first or second love? We come and we go. We go and we come. There are friends you will never ever see again. There are relatives whose path may never cross yours again. But every so often, fortune may smile at you. An old friend or neighbor may just be a mile or two away from you; or you may meet up again in the farthest corner of the earth as you walk the grandkids. Or, an old love that made you giddy when your heart was young may just show up at your doorstep. Life happens.

How do you say “goodbye” or “so long”? Do you kiss? Do you hug? Do you shake hands or do you simply wave and go your separate ways? Or nod and then walk away in silence and in muted cries? How? When do you say “goodbye” or “so long”? In the wee hours of the morning, at dawn or dusk or when the sun is blazing? Do you say it when the rain is pounding or when the snow is caressing the leaves? How and when do you say your goodbyes and your so longs? Is there ever a right time and place? Do you say it when the elements converge? Or, you say it when your heart tells you it is time to move on? Still, goodbyes and so long are difficult to say…but…

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, Copyright 1952.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

2 Comments

  1. As I read this article I suddenly felt very sad.

    I am 32 years old but I find myself constantly thinking of how my life will be when I am in my fifties and sixties. All kinds of thoughts are always crossing my mind – Will I still be working just to survive? Will I feel content with my life? Could I have reached all the goals I set for myself?

    I want to go back to my the neighborhood I grew up in Zaria Kaduna State in Nigeria for the very last time. I also want to visit the high school I attended – Baptist High School, Jos – Plateau State. Those are the sweetest memories I have growing up. The years I spent there and the wonderful friendships I formed and also knowing that some of those wonderful friends I may never see again. Saying goodbye is never an easy thing to do.

    Life is a journey. It all depends on how you choose to live it.

    Thank you for your always wonderful articles

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