One of the things I’d been looking forward to this year was taking up invitations to speak at conferences in Vienna and Jakarta. A couple of weeks back I wrote to the organisers of those conferences to notify them I would need to withdraw, for over the last couple of months I have experienced a substantial deterioration in physical health that makes international travel very difficult. My meds give me peak periods during the day when my body movement is very good, but during the troughs it is difficult to move around. Moreover some days the peaks are long but other days it is the troughs that linger. Managing the this across time zones, jetlag and long flights is not really feasible.
My physical deterioration means I have also made the decision to sell my boat. My life since childhood has involved boats. The splash of salt spray across the face while motoring across the bay, the gentle rocking of the boat under a sunlit sky while moored fishing, and the all-nighter in which I get to witness the sunrise from the vantage point of my boat have been delightful experiences. I am a classic Myers Briggs extrovert – I get energised being around people – but the one place I could spend hours on end on my own was out on the water. Saying goodbye to my Haines Hunter will be more difficult than saying goodbye to Vienna. I will miss the opportunity to visit Vienna, but I will grieve the loss of my autonomy on the water.
It seems to me that from the day we are born life is a continual process of saying goodbye and welcoming the new. We say goodbye to the womb but enter an amazing new world; we go to school, make friends, find a sense of place, then say goodbye to the school years as we enter the adult world of work; when I married I said goodbye to the single life and began life as one part of a couple; when we had children we said goodbye to life in which the household was just us to begin life as parents; we finish our years of working and say goodbye to something that gave us great meaning and enter retirement; as we grow older we say goodbye to people we love as they pass away and welcome newborns into our world. With each goodbye comes the pain of loss, wistful memories, and things for which to be grateful. Yet each goodbye also brings a hello filled with possibility, new discoveries and fresh horizons. For me the key to navigating these changes is to accept that one era has passed, to look back with gratitude for what I was able to enjoy during that phase, to allow myself to wistfully remember the good of those times, yet to look forward to the new things to embrace, new experiences to be had, new dimensions of the journey to be found.