Can I tell you a secret?
It’s not one I mention often but I’ve been thinking about it recently as my family and I will soon be moving from Bangkok, Thailand after living here for almost three years. You know, now that I think of it, I had the same secret flit through my head as I left Yokohama, Japan before moving on to Bangkok.
The secret I have is actually a childhood memory from when I was growing up in Canada. Lean in, I will whisper it in your ear. See, I used to cry big heavy tears whenever my dad would sell one of the family vehicles. There were only a few, a couple cars and a truck, but they all brought me to to point of sobbing the moment my dad told me they were going.
I cried for the memories, for the journeys taken, and even for the smells of the seats which grew so familiar to me. Each vehicle had something special about it that I held dear. The oldest car had a bump in the backseat floor that I would sit on and peek between my parents in the front seat to watch with anticipation the big sky open up ahead on long road trips.
Then there was the old truck which gave me my first thrill of “wind-in-my-hair-freedom” as dad would let my sisters and I ride in the back as we’d spill over the hilly back roads near our lake cabin. So along the way I grew to fall in love these vehicles for all the special moments they carried.
I noticed when we moved from our home in Japan, the home my 3 children grew up in, that they cried the same way I did for that truck and those cars. For all the great memories tucked ever so tightly in there.
So now it’s the present day and it has come to that time of leaving this country that we have called home for 3 great years.Thailand has been such a gift to us. I am struck by how my heart has now surfaced that secret memory (which is not so secret now that I have shared it here with you).
Though I have not lived in Bangkok for a long time it has been such a special place to me. As I wrote of my car memories I realized that Bangkok for me encompasses the very things that lit me up as a little girl. The anticipation of “what’s next up the road?” in a city that really seems to offer everything one could imagine along with the freedom that is so appealing here. Bangkok is a free flowing place and if you can relax and enjoy the ride into the beautiful chaos it makes for a truly special experience.
How then to say goodbye to a unique place such as this? How to be sure that I close my time here in a way that honours the experience?
Here are 3 ways that I have learned to say goodbye to special places –
- Feel whatever wants to surface without judgement whenever and however it comes.
So many moments transpire during the time spent living in a host country, it’s only natural that emotions will begin to stir up as you reflect and prepare to move on. Sadness for the people you will miss and the places that became a part of your rhythm and routine needs to be felt. It will come in it’s own way, maybe a quiet thought of a friend who was so special and always there for you or a memory of times spent at a cafe your family called their own.
Allow yourself to go into whatever is coming up for you and try to zero in on what exactly is tugging your heart the most underneath it. Maybe that cafe memory is also touching on precious family time that is fleeting and always evolving as the kids grow and change. Don’t be afraid to get specific and really allow the feelings to be honoured so that you can really understand what made that place so special to you.
- Carry forward something from that place that reminds you of what it gave your life.
I’m not suggesting filling up on a whole bunch of stuff to remind you of the place you lived in, but rather, bringing with you an object, special framed photo, or perhaps a piece of art or furniture that really makes your heart connect to what made that place special for you.
This is important because we grow and change through connection with the people and the experiences that touch our lives. To honour that growth and carry it forward through this act of choosing the “just right” object to represent the place you’re leaving really solidifies that evolution and allows for the completion of the growth cycle that occurred.
- Don’t hurry your goodbye season but don’t get stuck there either.
There is this funny space of “in-between” that happens during that transition from one place to another. While the goodbyes are important to close one door it’s important to begin to lean toward the new door to adventure and keep your momentum.
We are natural beings and if we look to nature we see that there is a flow and hum to every living creature. Nature equals change. Whether it’s a river that is bending away from one bank to meander to another direction or a wildflower that is reaching around a tree to get more sunlight on its surface.
You don’t have to rush the process of leaving but once you sense that you are turning toward what’s coming up next for you in the upcoming move do feel free to turn your attention and energy that way.
This takes putting yourself first because there will still be people and things you are leaving that still mean very much to you. They may not like to see and feel you moving on but that’s their process, not yours. Be true to you and do what feels right for you without exception.
Know that you can be “in-between” both places best by doing what feels most joyful for you. If you need to take time to yourself do it. Or, if you need to begin exploring and researching your next host country do that. Maybe you need to have more moments with friends you will soon be saying goodbye to, trust your instincts and listen to what your gut is telling you. This is essential because it’s from here that your core knowing lies and your most authentic self resides.
In the end, only you know how to say goodbye to the special places and the people that you have grown to love and to experience more of yourself from. That is what makes a place truly special to us. When it not only gives us joy but also grows us up like that wildflower reaching for more sunlight.
Places that bring us to discover more of who we truly are – pieces that we didn’t know existed before we encountered them – are truly special. In fact, this is the biggest reason to really honour the act of saying goodbye to such special places.
When we do this really well we can then say ‘hello’ to the next special place that is around the bend and begin our next adventure with a beautiful momentum fuelled by appreciation.
What are some of the ways you use to say goodbye to special places in your life?
PS-If you happen to be saying goodbye to Bangkok (or know a friend who is) I created a special signing book called “Chohk-Dee” for friends to write good-by messages in to remember Thailand by. All the illustrations in this blogpost are from the book which is available through Amazon.com here.I also created a similar one called “Sayonara” when I left Yokohama Japan which is also available through Amazon.com here. Discover more of my work as an artist and creative coach at www.corrymacdonald.net.