Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

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I wish to make an ANNOUNCEMENT. He spoke this last word so loudly and suddenly that everyone sat up who still could. I regret to announce that — though, as I said, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to spend among you — this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD-BYE!

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

My preparations to leave the country have prompted me to think about departures in general.  Saying goodbye, whether it be to life or loved ones or friends, is a crucial moment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Heck, even to material items.  As part of my preparations I sold my car today, my beloved 1995 Honda Civic.  I didn’t realize how attached I was to that hunk of scrap metal until it was driving away without me.   For a moment, I was resentful of the fact I had to sell it; I didn’t want to make the sacrifice.  I was consumed by that emotional, angry brooding people experience when life seems ‘unfair.’

Sacrifice at times is a necessary evil.  Human beings don’t like giving up the people or physical items which make us comfortable.  Perhaps the best example of this is when an elderly man or woman loses their spouse, their partner in everything, the person who has been at their side for years and who made life seem possible to endure.  Death is the most harrowing goodbye humans have to deal with, whether if it is a parent, spouse, child, or friend.  We don’t want to deal with it and sometimes we avoid it, a decision that can lead to regret and remorse later on.

Before I get too dismal, the purpose of this post was to discuss how goodbyes can be carried out in such a way that doesn’t make parting so distressing.  Goodbyes can be tactful, eloquent, and even memorable.  A great example to follow (in our everyday lives and for us writers) is in literature.   Here are some of my favorite closing lines from authors who knew how to said ‘adieu’ in ways that were maudlin  without being cheesy, and definitive to the point of lacking any precariousness.

Best Literary Endings

“Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.” –J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

“For though he was master of the world, he was not quite sure what to do next. But he would think of something.” — Arthur C. Clark, 2001: A Space Odyssey

“He was soon borne away by the waves and lost in darkness and distance.”  –Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the benign indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate.  –Albert Camus, The Stranger

“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky- seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.  – Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

“I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita.”  – Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

If I don’t want to post to go on forever, I’m going to stop here.  If you have a favorite literary farewell, I’d love to hear it.

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Writers: Masters in the Art of Selfishness

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The solo traveller, the happy traveller.

Oh, I am a bad, bad blogger.  Yes, I’ll admit I’ve been neglecting my blog.  But there is a reason for it.  As I alluded to in my post ‘Finding Time To Read & Write,’ big changes are about to take place — are already taking place in my life.   As many of you may know, momentous life changes tend to disrupt one’s weekly routine.

In approximately 6 weeks, I will be moving to a town in England — specifically the southwest region — called Exeter.  Here I will begin studying towards a Master’s degree in British literature and creative writing.  Though I had been accepted to the program back in November of last year, I only decided not too long ago to enroll at the University of Exeter for my postgraduate degree.   But ever since my mind was made up, there has been much paperwork to complete, accommodation to secure, etc.  Only yesterday I finally sent out my visa application to the British Consulate after weeks of acquiring the proper documentation.  At last, this move — this major life change — feels real.  So why did it take me so long to decide?

Looking back, It’s hard to believe I brooded over this decision for eight months.  I can’t really pinpoint why it took so long; I only recall the elation I experienced on days I was leaning towards going, and the despair on days I had convinced myself this venture was too risky, to expensive…too reckless.   Today, I only wish I had decided sooner — if I had, I probably wouldn’t be scrambling around like mad trying to meet the requirements for a Tier 4 Student Visa.

But now that I definitely am going, this decision feels so right.  I have yearned for a change for quite some time.  A change in environment, lifestyle — the type of all-encompassing change that one can only get from immersion into a new country and culture.  For some people, I understand this urge to make  a drastic life change is lacking ; the thought never arises.  Perhaps it is instead viewed as a ‘disruption’ to one’s ineradicable daily routine.  For me, I know I will not be content with a linear life path — go to college, get married, move to suburbs, have kids, etc.  When I consider these generic life ‘goals’ most people share, I envision a future of such mediocrity that is terrifying enough to disrupt my sleep.

I strongly believe there is no reward without risk, nor is there success without suffering or failure.  These rules hold true for any type of profession, venture, or dream.  I am prepared for this.  And I also have to say that as a writer, one has to be selfish in some regards — one being the demand to experience the delights of the world through one’s own eyes — meaning, alone.  Writing is a solitary practice that must be devoid of disruptions.  Writers are self-involved in this way.  More than once, I have heard remarks from family, friends, and colleagues about my decision to move abroad, things like, “How could you move away from your family?” and “How are you going to survive there?”  I laugh inwardly at these questions mostly because they’re so worried while I, the one going, am not at all.

There was a recent article in the New York Times Magazine entitled “Yes Please, Party of One.”  The author Andrew O’Hagan discusses the bliss of traveling solo as a writer.  He says:

“I believe that traveling alone is the last great test of who you are in a world where everyone aches to be the same.”

Yes, I am going to England to get my Master’s degree, which will probably lead to a PhD, so that I can one day teach British literature at a university in the states.  I am going because I believe a degree in British Literature from a British university as opposed to an American university will hold more weight.  I am going because it is time to do something responsible and get the wheels moving on a career.  I am going because as I mentioned before, risks must be taken to escape the monotony of life.  But above all, I am going  for the reason Mr. O’Hagan has stated above.  In my own words, I am going for self-discovery.