No one is any good at saying goodbye

If we are lucky we consciously experience farewells, then we can say goodbye with each other. An essay about saying goodbye, what I learned from it and what saying goodbye taught me.

When you say goodbye, you have to let the goodbye get near you

My friend Sophie and I had met to have breakfast together one last time before she would begin her own travels in the afternoon. At the time, I was packing my life into boxes and slowly began to say goodbyes. I told Sophie that I already had to say farewell to people I loved. About how I observed that everyone dealt with the situation differently.

Sophie asked me if I was already about to say goodbye to her. I answered sincerely that I could not really let this get to me just yet. After that Sophie asked me if I actually knew what it meant to say goodbye.

I didn’t know the answer to your question, although I had already observed the farewell several times with friends and family – I had forgotten to observe myself in the process.

What does it even mean to say goodbye?

So at that time I had already said goodbyes without knowing what it actually meant to say goodbye.

Today, a few weeks later, I would explain farewell as follows:

To renounce someone or something in a more or less set framework. The farewell presupposes in a certain way an awareness of the circumstance or framework of at least one of the participants.

In any case, saying goodbye is an individual process. A space or state you enter within yourself. A kind of devotion to the shared experience, but also to the frame in which the past took place and the change at the fulcrum of the farewell.

In any case, saying goodbye is an individual process. A space or state you enter within yourself. A kind of devotion to the shared experience, but also to the frame in which the past took place and the change at the fulcrum of the farewell.

Do we still have to say goodbye nowadays?

Yeah, we should. For example, when the frame is irrevocable and irreversible. Nevertheless, I think that we have forgotten to say goodbye, we simply lack the practice in it, because the generation of our grandparents was probably even more familiar with saying farewell than we are today.

We’re spoiled. Almost everywhere where we go we are online. Establishing a connection requires only one tap and the voice is already in your ear or an beloved face on the screen. We send each other photos and always report on what we have experienced. One remains connected in a form of communication that has burst into all our lives and which today is hard to imagine life without. Maybe this is the reason why I didn’t know the answer to Sophie’s question before.

If availability on journeys is again not a given

My journey was meant to be different. Hitchhiking on boats across the oceans of the world means that the Internet is not available, mobile phone reception is not a matter of course. What remains? In an emergency, the satellite telephone on board – too expensive to make unimportant calls. It remains the luck to find a marina or perhaps a café on land that offers wifi. Postcards, letters. I have to be prepared for the fact that I won’t have Internet for several weeks. I also have to explain to friends and family that I don’t know how many days or weeks I won’t be available.

Dad has already asked how many days without notification before he shall send a rescue team after me. When I started talking about weeks rather than days, and that I couldn’t tell him an exact time, he didn’t feel very comfortable.

If I don’t say goodbye, I won’t miss anybody

So I tried not to say goodbye to anyone under the guise of farewell. I told everyone we’d stay in touch, we heard a lot about each other and we’d meet again and everything was as it always was.

Until that day with Sophie I didn’t know how to say goodbye, I could only go on without looking back. Firmly convinced that it was not a goodbye. Sure that I will take everyone on my journey and that one day I will come back and find everything I have longed for in the meantime. If I just refused to say goodbye, I wouldn’t miss anyone.

Trying not to say goodbye turned out not to be feasible for me. My last working day was to become a small celebration with my dear colleagues in the evening. Everyone approached me and wanted to say goodbye. With hugs and a flood of moving words and wishes. I have experienced so much appreciation and love that the sheer string of people who wanted to say goodbye simply overwhelmed me.

This was probably the last farewell party I ever wished for in my life.

To say goodbye requires a closeness to oneself

From that day on, I wanted to take time for each and every one of my loved ones. So for the upcoming farewells it meant many dates. I marked out the framework for each of them, as best I could: Limited reachability for an indefinite time, while I sail around the world with strangers on the boats they own.

The frame, however, is only a small part of the farewell. To say goodbye you have to open your heart and allow the moment to happen. Also something so many of us have forgotten, including me.

Time will not stand still, the constant change is inevitable, even something that I wish to everyone. Some people accompany you only a part of the way and enrich you for all your life that is to come. When you say goodbye, it’s about opening your heart.

To take a farewell also means to give a farewell

“For me, saying goodbye means taking a small part of the person with me on my journey, but still letting go of most of the person,” Sophie said.

People have found each other to let go of each other when the time comes. Letting go: This means to release someone in freedom and self-responsibility and to give love on the way.

When I say goodbye, I’ve braided Sophie’s hair. A braid, I imagined, as it was worn by the Vikings when they set out to explore new worlds.

Farewell begins in a moment but is not over when the moment is over. Instead, you carry the farewell with you and slowly let go, piece by piece. Sometimes without ever really letting go.

Hi there!

I'm collecting freckles all over the world. My passion is sailing. I've quit my job to sail full time and cross oceans. I will share my experiences with you.

Welcome aboard!

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *