Reflection: On Goodbyes

Goodbye is a skill. The ability to realize an end to a moment, to button it up, to let something or someone go, to leave and be left, to turn your back on what you’re reluctant to lose sight of, to sit alone with your memories and your thoughts, to be strong enough to will your emotions to be smaller or at least containable in the absence of the companionship of the thing. Goodbyes take muscle.

Muscles wither when not used, and technology makes us pitiful. 

We are connected, and so we see no need to say goodbye. It feels archaic, antiquated, obsolete to say it. It does not matter that the threads that connect us are thin, or fragile, or slack.  One connection is interchangeable with another, regardless of the weight, and we treat every relationship as if it can go on in perpetuity, regardless of its benefit or toxicity. The connectedness of the modern world allows us to be shallow, to be dim, to be distant to what and whom we love.

Goodbye will only become more obsolete as we grow older, as goodbyes become associated only with heartbreak and death, as the world continues its march towards human immortality through online presences that never disappear, that haunt, that remind us of the things we should have done when we had the chance. 

Goodbyes are rare and precious among the living and are to be valued as such. But we are a little too weak, a little too unwilling, a little too distant, to give goodbyes the gravity they require. 

Goodbyes require intimacy, and as we spiral out from each other, like satellites loosed from a dying star, they will disappear from our lives, and we will forget until we are forced to remember. We won’t know how to handle to hurt, but we will have to suffer it regardless.

It is strange how the things that make life easier can make living harder.

Cover: Pablo Palazuelo - Nigredo I (1993)