Loving the Great Goodbye

I once attended a powerful retreat facilitated by the extraordinary poet, David Whyte, who wrote The Heart Aroused. He was certainly successful in arousing my heart that particular weekend-probably one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met, and was most definitely someone to whom I never wanted to say good bye…

The Buddhists believe that the root cause of suffering comes from our attachments and that surrender (a constant flow of loving and letting go) is the only way to experience peace and well being. Now this philosophy seems pretty much in alignment with my observations.

In my years of research, study, and exploration, everything seems to point to one conclusion (both in my own life and those of others)-that when we cling to something or a certain outcome of how we think things ought to be, the tighter our grip, the more we will suffer-that our attachment will inevitably cause us great pain-not the person, place, situation, circumstance, event or thing to which we are attached, but the attachment itself.

David Whyte calls us “creatures of the great good bye.” No other primate has the cerebral capacity to ponder the future to the extent that we humans can. And with this in mind, the whole being on top of the food chain factor could definitely be seen as something of a disadvantage.

But is it, really? Perhaps it is just how we perceive this perplexing knowing-that-we-are-eventually-going-to-have-to-say-good-bye-thing. Suppose you could realign your thinking just a little bit to realize the possibility for something good to happen the next time you take leave or bid farewell to someone or something you love. I mean if you think about it, saying good-bye is so utterly inevitable that it seems preposterous what we put ourselves through in worrying and anticipating it so.

As “creatures of the great good bye,” we are the collective result of our primal heritage, with one notable exception. We can reason. So, next time you go into a spin about having to say good-bye, don’t try to figure out what’s going on (most likely your primitive brain has sent you into the fight or flight mode). Instead, try embracing your fear, sadness, angst, or whatever comes up with compassion for yourself. Just let whatever is happening be there, noticing your resistance and allow it for once. Good. Now use your ability to reason to think of one positive thing that could result because you were able to surrender to the situation in this moment. Just one. Fantastic. You are on your way to conditioning yourself into a whole new way of being-beyond suffering.

Oh, one final note. I haven’t been able to discover anything good yet about saying good-bye to David Whyte (and that was nearly four years ago…). Ya… I know… I am a work in progress…join me, won’t you?