Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Getting Good at Goodbyes


I’ve bounced around quite a bit in this past decade that has been my adult life so far. Both geographically and organizationally. While I’m almost certain I’ve unlearned more things than I have learned and am far less certain of the things I still think I know than I was toward the beginning, there are a few things I’ve come to be convinced of during this decidedly nonlinear odyssey. One of them is the great importance of parting well.

The fact is this: There will be many people in your life you will part from one day fully expecting to see again but never will. And there will also be a fair number of folks you leave thinking you’ll never see again only to cross paths with them down the road in totally unexpected circumstances.

Parting well is important in either scenario.

I made some mistakes with this early on and also received some good advice. Which was probably good given that since then I spent two years in an expat community of sorts where people were constantly coming and going, traveled to about 30 countries and (at least) two war zones, worked for two politicians and several different agencies and organizations. And while I left some of them under difficult circumstances, I think (to the best of my knowledge – if you’re reading this and think I’m wrong I hope you can forgive me) I’ve left on good terms with just about everyone.

I’ve recently worked in a world of people who like bullet points, so I feel the odd but undeniable compulsion to leave some bullet points about parting well. This is probably complete bullshit, but anyways:

  •           Mindfulness: Just keeping in the back of your mind that even the most mundane or routine goodbye to someone may be the last time you see them goes a long way.

  •           Intention: Goodbyes are awkward. I get it. But make time for them anyway. Situations when you know you’re saying goodbye for a long time are an opportunity we don’t get often, so take advantage of them. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Just take the time to intentionally acknowledge the fact.


And that’s about all I’ve got, kids.