One of the many blessings and characteristics especially unique to Sedonans is their receptiveness to different experiences, differing cultures, and personal growth. I feel privileged to have gotten to know so many Sedona residents over the last 3 ½ years and have enjoyed the satisfaction of being a part of the great mission of the Sedona Community Center.
Does it sound like I am trying to say good-bye? Well, yes, I suppose I am. As I pondered on how to approach the subject in this column, I decided to stay with my usual writing style—giving you some interesting information, perhaps helping you to learn something new, and on the way sharing a smile. There are many great quotes addressing the topic. Three of my favorites are—
- “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” – Attributed to Dr. Seuss
- “They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” –Attributed to Confucius
- “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” – Attributed to A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)
Of the three quotes, I think I like Winnie-the-Pooh’s the best and it certainly sums up my feelings nicely. I also thought of the greeting ‘Aloha’ –which loosely translated means both ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye.’ According to skylinehawaii.com, the essence of the word ‘Aloha’ is being in harmony, loving, and respecting the world and all the beings in it. The website goes on to say that a long-established Hawaiian greeting is for two people to touch foreheads and noses while inhaling. This breath exchange called ‘ha’ is considered to possess spiritual power.
That may remind you of another culture. You may be familiar with the stereotypical phrase “let’s rub noses like the Eskimoses” that reportedly debuted in a 1930’s Porky Pig cartoon. The rubbing of noses is actually called a “kunik” by the people of origin. Like the ‘ha’ greeting of Hawaii, it is shown as a greeting of affection, not romantic love.
Many cultures share a similar face-to-face type of contact upon saying hello and saying good-bye. Some Europeans give a peck on one or both cheeks upon arrival and leaving the company of friends or even casual acquaintances. Until recent days, it seems like to me that hugging has become popular here in the U.S.
On a more serious note, various authors who write on the topic of good-bying suggest that it’s helpful to have intentional conversations with people who are/were important to us prior to leaving. Those chats may be short, long, airy, or intense, but however they come out, it can help us to make the transition and prepare emotionally for the absence of the people, places, or things that will accompany the farewell. It may be helpful to understand that a type of loss is taking place and that there are emotions attached to it. It is a good idea to give extra latitude to everyone involved because we all handle grief differently. This is true even when the good-bye heralds the start of something exciting and new, like graduating from college or moving to your dream retirement community.
On May 22nd I will wrap up my last day as Executive Director of the Sedona Community Center. It has been an honor to serve in this capacity. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had here and the pleasure of working with such an amazing group of people. The individuals who have enriched my life are too many to name. I will miss you. My life has taken a different turn right now that draws me away, although I hope to not be a complete stranger. With the onset of social distancing, six-foot-long personal spaces, and masks, there will be no adios hugs. But, please know, I am kuniking you in my thoughts.
The Sedona Community Center continues to provide Meals on Wheels and a To Go / Pick Up service to community members. Please call 928.282.2834 or check out the menu at www.sccsedona.org.