Posted by: mensab | June 26, 2008

Is there a Proper Goodbye?: A Phenomenology of Farewell

                                      There is a gifts and souvenirstime for everything, for nothing. A time to meet, no time

  to get  to know more. A time to talk, no time to listen to intimate

  experiences. A time to listen, no time to talk back. A time to laugh, no

  time to remember the joke. A time to tell stories, no time to make

  stories. A time to fall in love, no time to be in love. A time to be together,

  no time to be forever. A time to leave, no time to do a proper goodbye.

  Indeed, there is a time for everything, for nothing.


Is there a time to do a proper goodbye? What do we do before that painful (for many) and yet joyful (for some) and insightful (for me) estrangement?


Goodbye is meant for those whom we care so much, whom we love like a ghost, whom we share special moments happily, either by walking, chatting, eating or sitting.


Some movies remind me of memorable and heartbreaking scenes of goodbyes. Strained separation. (Gravity is usually projected as the ultimate reason for this. Outstretched arms clinging on to one’s hand. Zooming in to the last touch of each other’s fingertips. Then, letting go, falling.. The eyes saying “I’ll be with you.”) Moving away. (A moving car, bus, boat or train sets the setting. There is so much to say, but little time left. The motion of leaving and inertia of staying behind cause the disconnection and losing of sights, sounds, voices, bit by bit, until no more.) Moving on. (Divorce, break-up, graduation, internship are examples of moving on scenes. Life continues, without the other.)


I have my own share of goodbyes. In Costa Rica, I said goodbye by dancing the night away in Puerto Viejo. I bid farewell by swimming with kids in San Bosco. I walked around San Jose. I had a couple of Imperial beers. I visited a dear friend in Ciudad Colon and stayed there until it was nearly time to go. In Manila, I had lunch with some of my classmates and DIPS people. I had splendid dinner and night with some of the second batch DIPS students. (Because of them, I feel protected and scared at the same time.) I helped give-away the “excess” things left by my classmates to an NGO working for and with deaf persons. I stayed for quite a while in Riverbanks. I hugged and kissed my dear ate. In Milaor, I treated my family to a satisfying lunch. I asked for blessings from my father. I hugged my mother tightly to bring her warmth and prayers with me in Jakarta. But, are these goodbyes proper?


Some hug. Others kiss. Many wave hands. Goodbyes are ritualized. People do it by eating out together. Some give cards and souvenirs to remember by. These rituals and material stuffs are created and perpetuated to convey meanings that matter to us. Hug for the closeness, kiss for affection and love, waving hands for connectivity, eating out for fellowship and friendship, cards and souvenirs for the memories together.


A ritual can be personal and social. Thus, goodbyes too. Our hugs of goodbye can mean, “take care,” “goodluck,” “see you soon,” “I love you,” “I will miss you.” Those can also be expressed by our kisses of goodbye. Or simply a wave of hand with a prayer and our names on it. Still, are these goodbyes proper?


Probably, I did not do any goodbye at all. There were many that were left behind in Costa Rica, in Manila, and in Milaor. For them, I did not leave. I am still with them, unknown, unheard. I take comfort in that sense. Our interconnectedness in the pulse of our souls and the rhythm of our heartbeats links our longings, aspirations, dreams. They blur the spatial and time dimensions that separate us, from here to there, from now to past and/or future. They liberate us from the bondage and oppression of homesickness, detachment from the familiar, seclusion of our little selves into a little world.


Probably, it is time to do goodbye to goodbyes. We are all interconnected after all. I could imagine a house with many rooms. We are all in the same house, but in different rooms. As you know or for your information, I am in Jakarta room. What’s yours? Our house may be big, but I can always go out of my room to visit yours. Of course, you are always welcome in my room. Through these exchanges and visits, we think no more of goodbyes. There can only be hellos.


Be surprised, always! Be awed by opening our doors!


Not goodbye, but welcome!



  1. hi paul, glad i found your site! have fun in jakarta and wish you the best in life!

  2. very good! glad i came across your site 🙂

  3. beautiful!!! 🙂

  4. Thank you! This is truly beautiful, and nice to think about perspectives and the future with our graduation ceremony already – tomorrow! Hope you are well, and I am grateful to have shared the experience at UPEACE with you!

  5. Hello!

  6. nice 😀

  7. very beautifully written

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