Accepting the Impermanence of Travel and Life

I struggle with goodbye.

I avoid it whenever possible – I’m much more of a “See you later! Love you!” person and if I think someone is going to leave me, I always make sure to beat them to it. Break your own heart before someone else breaks it for you.

Yet as I count down the days until I depart for Costa Rica, goodbye is no longer something I can avoid. In the next week and a half I have goodbye dinners with friends, final days at work, and a “see you later!” party with family. Goodbyes are closing in on every side and this time I’m the one leaving.

Though I know I am doing the right thing in leaving and taking a year for myself, saying goodbye scares me. I don’t know whether these goodbyes are “see you next year!” or “Thanks for being in my life. See you never!”.

In both my heart and head, I know some of these goodbyes are final and yet I cannot pinpoint which ones – experience has taught me that the goodbyes that you think mean “see you later!” are often more permanent that you anticipate. Yet I also know that those you expect to fade quickly from your life often reappear later.

I am at a point in my life where I am surrounded by people I adore, by people I have carefully formed into a support circle, by co-workers who have become family, and by friends I cannot imagine life without. Yet the places I am at are not where I long to be in my life – I am safe, comfortable, and if you took a snapshot of my life right now, I would be okay with that, but I also know that I will not be content here forever. Even if I stay, things will change.

Goodbye is inevitable.

There is no way around it – even if I could snapshot my life at this moment, I wouldn’t – yet I am convinced that knowing goodbye is coming may be even more heartbreaking than an unexpected one. I have been left with far too much time to hang on, to realize that this could very be the last time I see any particular individual, and if it is, what will I regret not saying/doing?

I complicate goodbyes, I think.

My biggest fear is leaving things unspoken. I want each individual to specifically know the impact that they have had on my life, how they’ve shaped me into the person I am, what their support meant, what I think when I think about them. I am an overly emotional and sentimental being when it comes to goodbye. I hug and cling to the very last second and have been known to cry on occasion. Walking away, knowing that I will be the one to leave, is the toughest thing to think about.

I want the best of both worlds.

I want to live the travel life, to be a nomad, and wander the world for years. I want to ditch my homebase and find home in countries across oceans.

I also want safety and comfort, to know who is going to be where and what they’re doing. I want predictability in my interactions.

Reconciling the two is proving to be all but impossible.
Tomorrow my family comes over to exchange Christmas gifts, eat pizza, and spend time together. It will be the last time I see them before I leave. On Saturday, I work my last shift at my retail job and on Sunday, I say goodbye to the co-workers who have become my family. Monday means goodbyes with my best friend and then, on Wednesday, it’s goodbye to my baby brother as I board my flight to Costa Rica.

Safe and comfortable has been the answer my entire life. Travel is my future, at least for now. Unfortunately, the means letting go and, well, that’s not really something I’m good at. I am taking comfort in the fact that life itself is impermanent – even if I were to stay exactly where I am now, things would change, relationships would change.

Life is impermanent. Travel even moreso. Though I cannot guarantee I will get through the next ten days without tears, I am doing my best to breathe, absorb every ounce of love and cherish every moment with the people I love, and let go.

23 thoughts on “Accepting the Impermanence of Travel and Life

  1. Neno


    Beatiful post, trust me taking a year off is one of best things ( if you can afford it). You will be just fine the moment you enter the plane.


    safe and confortable is not where you want to be.

    I will be following your blog.

    1. XmasDolly

      Ahhhhhhhh the call of the wild! Look it’s your life nobody else’s! You have to live with you the rest of your life so why not be happy doing what you want to do don’t you think? Be happy, be careful and be true to you. Good luck, stay healthy, and careful. Just be aware of your surroundings, and you’ll be just fine.

    2. Sky Post author

      Thank you! And yes, I think you’re right – safe and comfortable is beginning to feel a bit overrated! 😉

  2. Samantha Angell

    I am similar to you in some ways, and different in others in saying goodbye. I don’t really like to do it, especially because as I’ve gotten older it gets more emotional. With my husband and I living in Sweden and the rest of our families in the US, it is hard to say goodbye to them. Because of this, usually I try to just quickly say “bye love you thanks for everything!” and haul my butt through the airport before I can start crying.

  3. Erica Bodker

    I absolutely hate saying goodbyes but I tend to get mad that people are leaving instead of embracing it. Haha. I think you are going to enjoy your year off and everyone will miss you. Keep us posted on how things go and try not to cry like I would lol

  4. Jamie | North of Something

    Your comments about wanting the best of both worlds describe me perfectly! I totally understand. I’m a homebody who loves being at home with familiar surroundings and people, but I also love traveling and seeing new places. Don’t worry, you will find a happy medium in your life and reconcile the two parts of yourself 🙂 Enjoy your “See you laters!” with all your family and friends and I look forward to reading about your travels!

  5. Margarita Ibbott

    I think it is always hard too say goodbye. The think is that you just need to remember that YOU are the one that leaves. So it is your task to RECONNECT. I was the one that left.

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  7. Joyful Gifts by Julie

    I am a hater of good -byes too. The worst good bye I had was moving away from my hometown and one of my sister’s. We were grabbing each other through the window as I drove away. ugh

    I love the Winne the Pooh quote. What a wonderful way of thinking about knowing a great friend.

  8. marina

    Goodbyes are always hard. The only consolation is when you close one chapter in your life you can look forward to the next one beginning, a new adventure, new memories and new experiences. Wishing you well as you make the transition.

  9. Nikita

    This hit so close to home. Goodbyes will never be easy… And there’s no way of knowing if they’ll be forever. But you’re right, life changes anyways, and if you didn’t leave you’d probably still lose a lot of the people you’re close to, except without the foresight to tell them exactly what they meant to you. Thanks for writing this!

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