As I prepare to spend the next year of my life in Southeast Asia, I find myself contemplating yet again a fact that I’ve known for years: it’s not so hard for me to say goodbye.
Wait…let me qualify that. I have an anam cara, a soul friend. I miss her deeply when we’re not together. That missing her is such a part of me that it’s a given and I operate with it, like I operate with my stiff hips or my trick knee – I know it’s there but I work around it and push through. But I know there will be times while I’m gone when she’ll need me or when I’ll need her and we won’t be able to be in touch in the moment and that hurts me just to think about it.
So, other than to my anam cara, I don’t find it so hard to say goodbye.
Over the years, I’ve asked myself why this is so. I wondered if perhaps I don’t let myself feel deeply enough for people so I don’t miss them when I go. I considered this seriously then I rubbished it; I’ve learned over the years to love my friends and family passionately and my actions demonstrate this every day, so how deeply I feel for the people in my life isn’t in question. Maybe I have stars in my eyes about travel and think it’s all rainbows and unicorns? Hmmm…no; I rubbished this one too. I’m not a novice traveler and this is not my first time living away from Jamaica for an extended time. I also know that terrorism has changed the face of travel and made it a bit more wearisome and worrisome. No stars in my eyes there.
To answer my question of why it’s not so hard for me to say goodbye, I realised that I had to go back several months. I had an ‘aha!’ moment some time in April 2015 when I finally realized that this urge to go out into the world is a gift from God, given to me from as early as I can remember to help me fulfill my calling, whatever that turns out to be. I realized that I needed to stop demeaning as a frivolity this burning desire to live a travelling life (and to stop allowing others to demean it) and finally take it seriously. After all, it’s been with me all my life and it doesn’t seem like it’s going away. What I really needed to do was to figure out how to incorporate my desire to serve others into my travelling life.
And in my musings about saying goodbye, it occurred to me that, along with the desire to go, God also blessed me with the ability to go without becoming overly sentimental about it. If He hadn’t, I’d find it impossible to leave. The angst and the heartache would surely overwhelm me.
My precious 6 year old godson reinforced this theory for me. A couple of weeks ago, he asked me, “Auntie Kristine, why do you love to travel so much?” (This was after he forbade me to go). In response, I asked him, “Well, why do you love cars so much?” He thought about it for a couple of seconds then said, with a shrug of his shoulders, “I just do.” Exactly! I just do. I just love to go and it will be an integral part of who I am until God says different.
Additionally, I believe with every fiber of my being that this is God moving me into my purpose. My going is that much easier when I put it into its divine context.
And so, I go. I go with some trepidation (new region, new language, new challenges and very few people who look like me!). And I go bursting with excitement. And I go full to overflowing with joy and peace and the desire to do good out there and to do well and to enjoy myself while doing it. And although I take those I love dearly with me in my heart, I go without looking backward. Because, thank God, it’s not so hard for me to say goodbye.
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