Many years ago during a period of great transition, I was introduced to the concept of “praying our goodbyes”.
Now, as my love and I are poised to embark on new (and as yet unknown) adventures, I find this phrase dancing in my heart.
It is about consciously letting go what was, to make way for the new. Also about examining each experience, place or relationship whilst savouring it’s essence and marvelling in the gifts it has brought into one’s life.
The purpose of this examination, I suppose, is to become aware so that the letting go and the inevitable grieving that forms part of any change, is experienced fully. This is certainly a good ritual for someone like me who is inclined to the sentimental and soulful way of being.
It might seem to some that this process is maudlin and that it is unhealthy to wallow in sadness and feeling. I know my partner will almost certainly see it that way. He is made of sterner stuff and prefers (or so it seems to me) to close the door firmly without so much as a backward glance. He is also the one who loves change and thrives on the thrill of new challenges.
For me though, this ritual replaces a practice I had for many years of collecting things objects , pieces of paper , train tickets, feathers – you name it, I collected – countless reminders of places visited, people met and experiences had. Whenever I had to move, there would be boxes and boxes of these tangibles mementos that needed to be carted with me. At the new dwelling, however big or humble, space would have to be made for all these boxes.
At some point, I decided it was enough. I let them all go. I unpacked them one last time, handled them with love and care, said goodbye and moved on. Some of the mementos were passed on to my daughter, son or to others that might enjoy them, but most were burnt with the certain knowing that whilst the object might be going up in flames, the experience never would.
It seems Life had taught me, at long last, that we are the sum total of all our experiences: the good, the bad, the ugly (yay …soundtrack!), however we may label them. With each new encounter, we are transformed whether we are aware of it or not.
So, as I pack up my worldly possessions to leave the beautiful place I have called home for the past four years, I gently and tenderly embrace the starlit skies; dew speckled morning walks; the sunlight glinting on the dam / the sea as we look out to the horizon bumping along on the road; the jackal buzzard’s gliding flight; amazing surprise sightings on the road of leopards, porcupines and so much more.
I reflect briefly on the people and happenings that have become part of my life as is my bent. Some will stay in my heart forever and others will gradually fade from my memory having played their part in changing me.
And for all of this, I am truly grateful.