“All of life is an act of letting go but what hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye”
( Life of Pi)
Yesterday we went to see Life of Pi at the cinema. Apart from the fact that it was an amazing film and so insightful at so many levels, the one phrase that stuck out above all the rest was this “All of life is an act of letting go but what hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye”.
To many this could just be a statement about grief, dying and morbidity but to me personally this rang out as it echoed my own words in the journal I kept during the first 18 years of my daughter’s life. When she was born I wrote:
“Giving birth was metaphorically the means of letting go and I realised for the first time ever that this journey into parenting is going to be a story of letting go throughout the years, of saying goodbye to what goes before with fondness and affection whilst welcoming new and exciting adventures as the organic path of her life unfurls”
Somehow even back then, naïve to the demands of parenting, at that moment of delivering this beautiful baby I knew that letting go was going to now be part of our life but importantly saying goodbye was going to be as much part of enabling our future experience as moving forward would be.
Looking back now this has been so very true. We have celebrated her past successes, mourned disasters as they have struck and in doing so have walked an adventuress path from the elation of hearing her first newborn cries to the tears of happiness as she has moved into adult life. But why this process of letting go, saying goodbye to events that would never happen again and welcoming the future has been so important has been an intrinsic necessity that possibly has so often been overlooked.
Saying goodbye to childhood experiences and adventures even at the most simplest level has struck a chord at four levels:
Emotionally it has enabled a letting go that enables a freedom to move on.
Physically it allows for an appreciation of development milestones and removed the fear of those that are ahead.
Socially it has placed an emphasis on and acknowledged the minutia of what has been done and provided the support to carry on even when the road has been rocky.
And fourthly it has spiritually allowed for an expression of love as well as respect and the place of responsibility.
So the challenge for parents is to recognize the importance of the transition from what has gone before to what will be in the future and to help their children negotiate and navigate their way through life secure in the knowledge that their past has worth and their successes, achievements and failures should all be embraced to furnish their future pathways. Such letting go, saying goodbye will then support them, and us as their parents, in moving forwards without regret or recrimination and with enlightenment and freedom.
How to though is not rocket science? As our children go through their formative years and we notice them surging forward we need to stop for a minute and take time out to reflect on what has gone before, to look back and recollect the good as well as the not so good, to maintain our memories and in doing so have the reassurance that the future can be just as good if not better.