The act of leaving is somber. Strange. Sentimental. Solitary.
I think no matter how it happens or why it happens, leaving just lingers in the soul like one of those bandaids that feathers with the wind, waiting to be stripped from the skin. Leaving feels like an untied shoe. Like lips struggling for a strained smile. Like a snow cone that’s melted into a sticky puddle.
Leaving is stigmatic in the sense that we are trained to feel loss when something goes away. When a thing or a person is so engrained in our lives – our routines, our notion of normality – it feels like we are stripped when this thing or person leaves.
Is our grasp on reality simply defined by the roots we’ve created, welcoming our routine footsteps?
So, then, what do you do when those constants lose their grip from the ground? What happens when those constants leave?
The act of leaving is strange. We are stripped. We are emptied. We are catapulted from normality and bolted into creeping strangeness. Everything is suddenly strange. We are suddenly strange.
Lick a dirty lemon peel. That’s how strangeness tastes. It feels like wearing a pair of jeans backwards. Strangeness looks like your penmanship from the wrong hand.
This past month, I’ve experienced people leaving my life, when they were the ones who defined it so deliberately for me.
It’s not that they were family or even close friends. But the environments and relationships through which I knew them, those are the elements that defined these two people for me. And these relationships are what defined the rest of my world as I knew it, in the most subtle of ways.
When people decide to leave an environment, it says something. You don’t need a goodbye email or a dramatic exit to absorb the sobriety. The rawness of leaving is real and resonant within our souls.
But no matter how stripped, strange, sentimental or solitary the act of leaving makes you feel, it’s refreshing to remember how optimistic leaving can be.
If you’re the one who leaves or it’s someone who leaves you, remember this:
To do things you’ve never done, you’ve got to be uncomfortable. Once you’re in a routine, you forget how to seek, learn and struggle. It’s important to always feel the need to be better, to look for answers, to uncover new desires. Sometimes when our realities are defined by the constants in our lives, the best and scariest thing is for those constants to leave.
I am a firm believer that the scariest things are the best things, which is probably why I’m such a big fan of roller coasters and other adrenaline-pumping activities.
When faced with the act of leaving, I think we should remember that just because it’s scary doesn’t mean it’s bad. Maybe you should leave a relationship, a poor diet, a bad habit, an unfulfilling job, a dangerous situation, an expensive apartment, or a toxic friendship.
I give you one of my favorite quotes from a Baz Luhrmann song, prose courtesy of columnist Mary Schmich:
“Do one thing every day that scares you.”
And by golly – if, today, that means leaving. Then it’s time to leave.