Slice #28: Adieu

Spring break has arrived. Tomorrow, at day’s first light, I leave behind Kuala Lumpur to explore the vibrant complexity of Hong Kong – excited to immerse myself in its multitude of stories. As I have made the decision to leave behind my computer, carrying instead my journal to capture Hong Kong’s tales, I bid adieu to the Slice of Life Writing Challenge.

Goodbyes are one of the many juxtapositions life lays before you. Painful farewells – are endured, while new beginnings – are anticipated. No wonder Shakespeare defined partings as such sweet sorrow. A meaningful goodbye lingers, filling your heart and thoughts. Slowly morphing into a memory. Over time, these memories transform into a new story that will one day require its own ending – an ending that begets a beginning.

Great literature winds itself around your heart leaving you breathless as you drink in the final words. You bid adieu to the characters but the imparted wisdom remains chiseled into your life. Some literary lingerings to savor…

“There is accumulation. There is responsibility. And beyond these, there is unrest. There is great unrest.” The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye and sailed back over a year and in and out of weeks and through a day and into the night of his very own room where he found his supper waiting for him—and it was still hot.” Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

“Are there any questions?” The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

“Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

“She looked up and across the barn, and her lips came together and smiled mysteriously.” The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck

“I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers, for the sleepers in that quiet earth.” Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte

“Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this.” Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

“Her eyes were closed, and throughout her tired self swept waves of gratitude — and regret. She pictured the sunny room, the sun-washed wall, the bayberry outside. It baffled her, the world. She did not want to leave it yet.” Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout

“But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.” The House At Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne

“It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.” Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn’t already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race – that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant. None of those things, however, came out of my mouth.” The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

“To me it seems rather Christlike to be as unadorned as this place is, as little regarded. I can’t help imagining that you will leave sooner or later, and it’s fine if you have done that, or you mean to do it. This whole town does look like whatever hope becomes after it begins to weary a little, then weary a little more. But hope deferred, is still hope. I love this town. I think sometimes of going into the ground here as a last wild gesture of love – I too will smolder away the time until the great and general incandescence. I’ll pray that you grow up a brave man in a brave country. I will pray you find a way to be useful. I’ll pray, and then I’ll sleep.” Gilead, Marilynne Robinson

And so I say farewell to the Slice of Life Challenge, with lingering thoughts of writing. I contemplate my future and wonder about writing’s place in my life. I may not know how or when this ending begets a beginning, but already I feel its memory morphing into a new story that will one day require its own ending.

* Today’s post is a redux, with a twist, from last year’s final slice in the Slice of Life Writing Challenge.