Looking around at various “aboriginal” cultures, I’ve noticed something: very few place much emphasis on goodbye, and some don’t even have a word for it. I remember reading in Glory Road (Heinlein), about a tribe the character visits up in Alaska, above the Arctic circle, and that the closest they came to goodbye was “sometime again.” In Hawaiian, hello and goodbye is the same word, “Aloha”.
There’s something to that, I think, something really worthwhile. Our culture is so afraid of letting go, of saying goodbye, and I can’t help but wonder if it’s because the concept of goodbye is artificial, something that has grown out of a culture of possession. We say goodbye because we’re giving up the possession of someone’s time or presence. “Goodbye” is separation, it is permanence, it is loss. It completely misses the point that all things are connected, and that nothing, not even death if we’re to believe in an afterlife, is truly gone. It is simply somewhere else, and all things will reconnect in time.
The saying goes that if you stand in one place, the world will pass before you. I think it’s true, in one fashion or another. With the 7 billion people living on this planet parade in front of you? No, and that’s not to mention the animals and plants and assorted life that exists out there, either. It is a matter of interconnectedness, the holism of life, and that ultimately everything will come back around.
I don’t know why exactly I decided to write about all this. I’ve been thinking about it, thinking about the process of saying goodbye to my life as it was, and realizing that my life is still there, it’s just different. Where I go and what I do is still up to me, now more than ever. So why say goodbye? Regardless of whether it is the same, or even similar, that which matters will come back around. Instead of goodbye, “Sometime Again.”