In essence, we are all in the process of leaving. From the moment we are born we are looking for the next opportunity to leave. The first breathe and then the moment that comes next.
Death is the ultimate leave taking, but we practice many times before that supposed last moment of letting go. Lots of mini separations, practices that enable us to develop the thicker skin required for ultimate cessation from this life.
When your child leaves for his first day of school and doesn’t look back, he is telling you that he is ready and so should you be. When he races home and flings his tiny arms around you and says, “Mommy I missed you sooooooooooo much!” He is merely stating that the separation was pleasurable and he hopes to do it again soon. Leaving is an art best learned from children. They understand, as we older, less wise people cannot. They are closer to the truth; that we are all getting ready to leave and practicing how to do it properly is what life is all about.
As a person reaches their teen years they yearn for an exit. Sometimes they inappropriately wish for a dramatic exit and take their lives by accident or with purpose. The doorway they pine for is the road away from siblings, parents and rules, but unfortunately at that point any road will do. This will bring paths of drugs, sex, alcohol and lately computer, tv and I-Pods. At this point it’s best to hope that they find the car keys and travel.
In my case I learned how to leave by driving long distances. I traveled from Illinois to California many times and found that the miles brought peace of mind. My parents were 100 miles away, then 1000 and then just away. What a relief to realize, at the time, that I was unreachable. In the 1980’s no one was calling me by cell phone and if I chose not to check in at the next rest stop, what was going to happen? Certainly they would wait a day or two before calling the state troopers and in the mean time they ceased to exist in any real terms.
On the road my go to people were the truckers. They taught me how much room to leave between cars and how to pass another vehicle without pissing them off. A trucker would spy me in the car alone and then signal the other truckers by CB radio so that from state to state I would have a friendly escort. When I would stop for food or gas they would call ahead to let each other know and occasionally we would gather at the counter for chili and a chat.
My mother would have had a stroke if she had known that I was dining with old strange men and that I followed them up the long dark highway. What she didn’t know is that I learned at a very young age exactly who the good guys were. As I write this I can almost taste the freedom of the tail lights ahead of me and the dark road behind. Those trips were my first lessons on how to leave. Leave with excitement and anticipation; leave with very little or no belongings, leave without looking back, leave with no regrets.