There are some times that saying hello can be the hardest thing that you say in a day. Maybe it’s a pretty girl in the coffee shop that you frequent or your boss who never seems to remember your name. It could be the first day of school or the last stop before you get home, but “Hello” can be hard. It’s very difficult to overcome that shyness that descends on even the most outgoing of us in those circumstances. For some, hello represents the beginning of a world of opportunity or potentially the end of a daydream. It’s one of few phrases that we can say to another person that requires us to lower our shields and let another person, a stranger most times, into our lives. Personally, I feel that every time that we say hello to a person that we've never spoken to before, it is one of those butterfly effect moments that causes our lives to diverge into two distinct paths. It can change your life, for better or worse. But, with all the weight that I put into the simple two-syllable phrase of “Hello:”
Try saying “Goodbye” before you’re ready. I may not know everything, but I can tell you this, it’s never pretty.
Go on, I’ll wait here.
There are times when saying goodbye is a good thing. Whether it’s a crappy job, an abusive relationship, an addiction, bad habit or just something that’s keeping you stagnant, saying goodbye can be cathartic. The simple act of deciding to walk away, never to return, can be a massive catalyst for growth and healing. Some of the biggest changes in our lives are summed up with the word goodbye. Leaving home for the first day of school, or the first year of college are some of the happiest moments in the lives of our parents, but they are tempered with sadness. Even a wedding or graduation, moments that are among the happiest in a person’s life, has a farewell interlaced within them. Saying goodbye, in stark contrast to saying hello, is an inevitability that we cannot escape. When you say hello to a stranger and they ignore you, or blow you off the sting is instant but fades just as quickly because there is no emotion, no history to feed the feeling of loss. Like a fire without oxygen, it burns quickly before smothering itself. Normally, before you can even think about what could have been your mind tells you that the person wasn't who you thought they were and that you shouldn't care. Our minds have the amazing ability to shield ourselves from the unknown by telling you that how you felt was not logical, or practical or even moral.
Saying goodbye, in stark contrast, doesn't come with that inherent shielding that saying hello does. Why’s that? It’s really simple: when was the last time that you said goodbye to a perfect stranger? Goodbye comes at a cost, even when it’s done for a good reason. Walking away from something represents a loss of an investment. Be it time, attention, emotion, trust or even those intangible things that you can’t quantify; the fact remains that they’re gone. So, why all the buildup on hello and goodbye, right?
That’s easy. I've said it so many times before that I don’t ever think that it bothered me. In those days, I was more secure with parts of myself that have since withered and atrophied. But in the last year, I've said goodbye more times than I've said hello. I've lost more people than I've regained and although some of those losses are by far a better decision than the alternatives, I don’t think that I've ever had time to deal with the repercussions of saying farewell. In some cases, I know that I’ll look back with pride on the resolve that I had to walk away or the strength to survive the goodbyes that I've heard. But all in all, goodbye hasn't killed me. I had my doubts on that last part and I’m still not one hundred percent sure that my previous statement will hold true in six months from now, but time will tell. As much as I hate saying goodbye, there is always the opportunity for reunion. After all, no one said that goodbye had to be forever.
With all of that being said, I've written all of this to come to a very simple point. I've been living in Louisville for the better part of twelve years. My time here has been tempered with joy and sadness, triumph and tragedy. Through it all, I've grown as a person, mentally, physically and emotionally and my journey to become the perfect version of myself is far from over. But sometimes, for a person to grow and evolve, a dramatic change is needed. Although my time here for better or worse has been memorable and I've met amazing people that I will never forget for as long as I live, there are memories that I’d just as soon forget. Places that make old scars ache and lonely roads haunted by the memories of happier days. There are houses and buildings, parks and landmarks that bring a smile to my face or a tear to the corner of my eye. I drive past locations and have to fight the urge to jump out of my car and search for the remnants of past mistakes or fragments of happier times, but just as time waits for no man, neither do those memories stay forever. There comes a time when you have to let go of the past to be able to face the future, no matter how bright or bleak it may seem. So, I drive on, and say goodbye to the moments that I can’t reclaim, hold onto the memories that I can, and heal from the scars I've earned. But with all of that being said, there’s only so much that you can gain in one place before you start regressing, losing progress and finding yourself back where you started.
And although I can do a great many things, losing ground on a virtually impossible goal is unacceptable.
So, with all of that being said, maybe it’s time to move onto bigger and better things. Maybe the entire point of the experiences that I've had has been to prepare me for what comes next, whatever that may be. As it’s been said by wiser men than me: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
And more to the point, I think that it’s time to say goodbye.