In a rather self generated anti-climax, I have just finished my last day of work. Having tallied up the numbers, it turns out I have spent over a quarter of my life working there. It also means that I have spent three quarters of my life attending school- either as a teacher or as a student myself. Given that I am not yet forty, that should be, by bonafide socially-aware folk, either a little bit inspirational, or emotional, or at the very least duly noted.
However, I managed to cunningly avoid most of the folderol through a combination of techniques including ‘hiding’ in my office during breaks, actually continuing to do my job during the day rather than dithering about in the staffroom, and finally scarpering off home promptly on the final bell rather than go to the drinks and speeches at the official ‘do’ for fellow leavers and retirees.
Am I an immensely ungrateful person I wondered to myself? Or am I just anti ‘fuss’? I found the thought of it all a little overwhelming, and felt happier making my own arrangements for the next few weeks with the colleagues and friends I know more personally, and fully intend to keep in touch with. I googled Atelophobia and Katagelophobia, and while those are the extreme, I think I felt a little bit on the weak end of that spectrum about this.
Dear readers will know of my visit to Iceland in the spring, see the post here, which resulted in a thank you gift of a bottle of Prosecco from a student. I had been storing this away as had decided this was going to be my treat to myself on my last day. Digger however, had clearly forgotten that memo and took himself off moonlighting as a night-time office cleaner to help out a short-staffed friend (every penny counts in this run up to cessation of paid employment), so having shunned the staff party in the end I had a quiet night in with Tiddler tucked up in bed, a mug of hot chocolate, and a good book. Not necessarily everyone’s idea of painting the town red, but I felt quietly content in my own little way. (Digger and I shared the bottle of Prosecco the following night by the way with a home-cooked ‘date night’ meal, so it wasn’t all bad!)
This led me to spending a bit of time thinking and philosophising about goodbyes. Who are the goodbyes for? The one who is leaving, or the ones staying behind? Ancient yogis following Sanskrit texts uphold the notion of abhinivesah, or ‘clinging to life’, which also looks at the concept that holding on to things- people, places, the status quo- can actually cause more pain and sorrow than the short, sharp sadness of a goodbye. After all, with a goodbye, or closure, it means also the opening up to fresh, new things. A rejuvenation of sorts.
I also thought about JD Salinger’s words in Catcher in the Rye-“I was trying to feel some kind of good-bye. I mean I’ve left schools and places I didn’t even know I was leaving them. I hate that. I don’t care if it’s a sad good-bye or a bad good-bye, but when I leave a place I like to know I’m leaving it. If you don’t you feel even worse.” A similar sort of idea I suppose, in a ‘West’ meets ‘East’ kind of way.
That being said of course, as a result of the great technological advancement of our world, things are different. It is not the pilgrim fathers sailing of in the Mayflower, doubting whether they would ever see, or even hear news of their families again. It is not the loaf-stealing convict children heading off to Bot’ny Bay. I won’t need to be sending rolled up message on the feet of pigeons, or messages in bottles, or signal tower clacks and semaphore messages to keep in touch. I won’t need to be looking out for smoke signals to translate the news from back home. It will simply make me more distant, and ties more loose. Some friendships will no doubt fall by the wayside, through nothing more that passivity and thwarted intentions from either my side or theirs. Others will endure, wherever we go and whatever we do.
Is it adieu, or au revoir? Hopefully a simple case of Mañana Hakuna Matata!